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A History of Sydney’s 
Quarantine Station 




In Quarantine 




A History of Sydney s 
Quarantine Station 

1828 - 1984 

Kangaroo Press 

Cover design by Darian Causby 

Main photo: Rock carvings by quarantined passengers and crew. 

Inset: View of wharf and hospital (Nina Drydale). Back cover: European immigrants waiting 
for disinfection of their luggage for animal foot and mouth disease ( Health, June 1953). 

©1995 Jean Duncan Foley 

First published in 1995 by Kangaroo Press Pty Ltd 
3 Whitehall Road Kenthurst yiSW 2156 Australia 
P.O. Box 6125 Dural Delivery Centre NSW 2158 
Printed by Australian Print Group, Maryborough, 3465 

ISBN 0 86417 703 8 

For a brave immigrant, Annie Allan Laing 

7 don’t believe anyone can tell what Emigration is but them that is in it.’ 

(Entry in the diary of an imni^rant, Charles Moore, maintained from 1 5 February to 24 July 1855 during the voyage 
from England to Australia and the quarantine of the immigrant ship Constitution, held in the Mitchell Library) 


Acknowledgements 8 

Introduction 9 

Chapter 1: The Beginnings of a Quarantine System in Port Jackson 13 

Background • Reactions in Sydney to Infectious Diseases, 1788-1832 • The 
Quarantine of Convicts at North Head, 1828 • The Quarantine Act, 1832 • 

In Deference to 'Popular Feelings’ • The Quarantine of the Immigrant Ship Canton, 


Chapter 2: The Voyage and the Quarantine of the Immigrant Ship 24 
Lady MacNaghten, 1837 

A Calamitous Voyage, 4 November 1836 - 26 February 1837 • A Desperate 
Quarantine, 26 February 1837 - 9 May 1837 • The Proposal to Establish 
'a Convenient Lazaret’ 

Chapter 3: A Permanent Quarantine Station and Staff, 1837-41 36 

The Quarantine of the Immigrant Ship John Barry, 1837 • The First Buildings and 
Organisation • Medical Treatment, 1841 • A 'Heartlessly Callous’ Release from 
Quarantine • The Appointment of the First Health Officer of Port Jackson, 1838* 

A Permanent, Resident Superintendent of Quarantine, 1839 

Chapter 4: Immigration and Quarantine, 1838-59 47 

Improvements in Health on the Immigrant Ships • Fewer Immigrants and 
Quarantines • 'Neither an Immigration nor a Medical Establishment’ • 'Two 
Hundred Single Women let loose in the Bush’, 1853 • The Hospital Ship Harmony 
and the Re-organised Station, 1853 • The Select Committee on Quarantine Laws, 

1853 • 'Everything is very clean and nice’, 1855 


Chapter 5: ‘A Rough Place’ and a Royal Commission, 1860 - 81 

Buildings for 'the Proper Classification of Passengers’, 1873-76 • The Growing Threat 
of Smallpox • The Management of the Station • The Smallpox Epidemic and the 
Royal Commission into the Management of the Station, 1881-82 

Chapter 6: Under New Management, 1882-99 78 

Control by the Board of Health • Developments at the Station • A Treasure Trove • 

A Federal Quarantine System • The Quarantine of the Preussen, 1887 • The Threat of Plague 

Chapter 7: During Plague in Sydney, 1900 89 

Chapter 8: Politics and Practices: The Transfer to Federal Control, 1901-20 96 

The 'Burning Issue’ • At the Station, 1901-12 • A Major Building Programme 

Chapter 9: Conflicts and Epidemics, 1913-19 106 

Smallpox and a 'Gratuitous and Embarrassing Embargo’, 1913 • Military 
Tubercular Wards 1916-18 • The Pneumonic Influenza Epidemic 1918-19 • 

Archbishop Kelly and 'An Impious refusal’ • The Break-out of Troops from the 
Argyllshire, 1919 • The Commonwealth Department of Health 

Chapter 10: Changing Functions, 1921 - 84 118 

Within the Commonwealth Department of Health • ‘A Terrible Place’, 1930 

• 'One Continuous Picnic’, 1935 • Diminishing Quarantines and Boundaries 

• The War Years 1939-45 • The Quarantine of Aircraft • The Modernisation 
Program, 1957-61 • Non-Quarantine Functions • The Closure of the Station, 1984 

The Names (where known) of People who Died and/or Were 131 
Buried at the Quarantine Station, 1837-1962 

References 138 

Bibliography 149 

Tables of Quarantined Ships 1837-1881 155 

Index 159 


The idea of writing this history originated from Dr R. R. Bull, former Director 
of Health (New South Wales Region), Commonwealth Department of Health. 
During the months before the Quarantine Station closed in 1984, he kindly granted 
me access to the Station’s records, most of which are now held in the Australian 
Archives OfEce. I am grateful for the willing assistance given to me by his staff, 
particularly Mr R. Walker, the Foreman Assistant in charge of the Station, and Mr 
A. T. Hinder. 

My approach to the task has been guided by a generous scholar and teacher. 
Professor Brian H. Fletcher. Amongst the many other people who have helped, 1 
particularly acknowledge the following: Mrs 1. Brierley, Mrs S. Clarke, Professor 
Y. Cossart, Dr and Mrs J. G. Dickson, the late Mr A. R. Dill, Mr D. Gojak, Mr N. 
Goodair, Dr P. Hallett, Dr P. T. llbery. Miss B. McKenzie, Miss J. Mangan, Dr O. 
Mater, Mr D. K. Muir, Mr R. G. Preston, Mrs M. Richardson, Miss W. Thorp and 
Mrs M. G. Worthington. Additionally, Mr K. M. O’Toole gave me considerable 
help, especially with photographs, and Mr J. Phegan rescued me from many of the 
pitfalls in using word processing equipment. Mrs Belinda Elliott helped me with a 
number of the illustrations and encouraged me with her interest and enthusiasm. 

I thank the National Parks and Wildlife Service for granting me ready access to 
the Station, and gratefully acknowledge the help 1 have received from Mr. T. 
Haslehurst and other members of staff. 

One of the many enjoyable aspects of this task has been the search for records in 
various government departments, archives and libraries where the staff gave me a 
great deal of helpful advice. I particularly acknowledge the assistance given by 
Miss B. Ahrens, Commonwealth Department of Health Library, Mr. G. Austin, 
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and by the staff of the following: Archives 
Office of New South Wales, Australian Archives, Australian National Library, 
Australian War Memorial, Commonwealth Department of Health, Commonwealth 
Department of Housing and Construction, Fisher Library, Manly Municipal Library, 
Mitchell Library, Public Health Library at the University of Sydney (formerly 
Commonwealth Institute Library), Public Record Office (United Kingdom), Royal 
College of Physicians, Royal Australian Historical Society and the State Libraries 
of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland. 

Finally I thank my husband, Noel, for his wise advice and patient encouragement. 


An infectious disease* is a dangerous enemy to the health of a community, 
particularly in its incubating stage when an infected person who is not yet displaying 
symptoms may infect others unknowingly, potentially causing some devastating 
epidemic. Scientific research has provided medications and various techniques for 
the prevention and control of most infectious diseases in the twentieth century. In 
earlier centuries, however, the only known way to protect the health of a community 
from imported infectious diseases was to quarantine in the port-of-entry a newly 
arrived vessel suspected of carrying disease, until any infected passengers or crew 
members had died or recovered, sufficient time had elapsed to be certain that no 
one was incubating the disease and various cleansing measures had been carried 

Quarantine, which is defined as a strict isolation designed to prevent the spread 
of disease, was first used in European cities and towns in the late fourteenth century 
as a protection against the plague known as the Black Death, which killed an 
estimated one-third of the population of Europe and England in the mid-fourteenth 
century. In the following centuries, during most of which plague remained endemic 
and the threat of cholera and smallpox increased, quarantine stations (then called 
lazarets) were appointed whenever necessary in various British and European ports 
where quarantined vessels suspected of carrying infectious diseases could be isolated, 
and their passengers and crews could be landed for the duration of the quarantine, 
usually for at least 30 days. 

In Australia until recent years, maritime quarantine stations were maintained in 
ports-of-entry to prevent the importation by sea or air craft of diseases such as 
plague, cholera, typhus fever, typhoid fever, yellow fever, smallpox and leprosy. 
The first of these was located in Port Jackson, port-of-entry to Sydney, New 
South Wales, where a permanent quarantine station was established in 1837 at the 
North Head of the harbour for the quarantine of immigrant ships arriving with 
infectious diseases on board. 

Following the long established British example of checking newly arrived vessels 
for the presence of infectious diseases, successive governors of the British colony 
of New South Wales imposed quarantine regulations in Port Jackson from the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, mainly as a precaution against disease on 

term infectious diseases is used throughout the text to include all forms of communicable diseases. 


In Quarantine 

board the convict transport ships. Unlike some foreign ports where vessels suspected 
of carrying plague were sometimes driven back out to sea under threat of gunfire, 
quarantined vessels were isolated at an anchorage in Sydney Harbour, until one or 
more of the colony’s medical officers were able to reassure the colonial government 
that there was no longer any threat of diseases to the inhabitants of Sydney. 

At first, passengers and crews remained on board the quarantined vessels for the 
duration of the quarantine, but on 30 July 1814 the decision was taken to land 
convicts and guards from the convict ship Surrey at a place on the north shore of 
Sydney, probably at Milsons Point. In the following years, other places were 
proclaimed as temporary quarantine stations for people landed from quarantined 
vessels until 1828, when North Head was first used for the quarantine of convicts 
and guards landed from the convict ship Bussorah Merchant, on which there had 
been an outbreak of smallpox during the voyage to the colony. 

The decision to establish a permanent quarantine station was taken by Governor 
Bourke, following the tragic voyage and quarantine of the immigrant ship Lady 
MacNaghten in 1837. On his instructions, wooden buildings were erected in 1837-8 
to provide a hospital on what was called the Sick Ground, and accommodation 
for contacts on what was called the Healthy Ground. 

Over the following years, the procedures adopted at the Station to eradicate infection 
evolved in the hght of experience and the development of knowledge about the 
causes of specific diseases. From the beginning, there was recognition of the need to 
minimise the disruption to trade and commerce caused by delays of vessels, people 
and cargoes in quarantine, and efforts were made to cleanse and release vessels and 
their cargoes as quickly as possible, while their passengers remained on shore at the 
Station. From the time of the appointment of the first Health Officer of Port Jackson 
in 1838, increasing attempts were made to adopt a system of fimited quarantine, 
described in a report to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on the Proceedings 
of the first Australasian Sanitary Conference in 1884 as: 

A system of sanitary inspection, with certainly a scientific method 
following: that of isolating the sick and for the time being detaining the 
persons who, having been in immediate contact with them, may 
reasonably be supposed to be infected, and the subsequent purification 
of their luggage and effects, and of the vessel itself. There has been no 
ridiculous detention for a fixed period without any particular object, 
or a huddling of the sick and the healthy together, as has been the case 
in the Mediterranean, and has been so justly denounced by all sanitarians. 

Most of the Station’s history is linked to the successive waves of immigration to 
Australia, but other influences have also shaped its history.The growth of knowledge 
about the causes and means of transmission of specific diseases influenced changes 



in procedures and the duration of quarantines. Social attitudes influenced 
accommodation arrangements, particularly in the mid-nineteenth century when 
single women were strictly segregated for their moral protection. Social attitudes 
also influenced the treatment of Asian people, most notably during the 1881 
smallpox epidemic. Predictably, since the Station was a government institution, 
politics have played a role in its history: during the transfer of the Station from 
state to federal control in the early twentieth century, its possession became a 
‘burning issue’, and the responses of various governments to public outcry over 
poor conditions at the Station have often resulted in significant improvements to 
accommodation and procedures. 

Although the Station was established as a maritime quarantine station, it was 
also used during epidemics in Sydney of smallpox in 1881 and 1913, and plague in 
1900. Following the 1881 smallpox epidemic, the first move was made towards a 
uniform quarantine system throughout Austrafia, which culminated in the transfer 
of the Station, together with all other Australian quarantine stations, to 
Commonwealth government control in 1909. As part of a federal move to upgrade 
Australian quarantine stations, an extensive building program was undertaken at 
North Head between 1912 and 1920, and although some modifications were 
made in later years following the need to quarantine aircraft passengers, the buildings 
which remain on site are largely unchanged from that era, when quarantined vessels 
disembarked their passengers on the wharf at Quarantine Beach, and supplies were 
sometimes still landed at a jetty at Store Beach. 

Progressively during the twentieth century, as measures were taken to improve 
conditions and health on ships, the use of the station for maritime purposes declined 
and in April 1973 the Japanese tanker Sakaki Mam became the last vessel to be 
quarantined there. From the mid-1950s the Station was mainly used for the 
occasional quarantine of aircraft passengers arriving at Sydney’s airport without 
the required health certificates, and for the disinfection of imported articles which 
might carry plant and animal diseases such as anthrax and foot and mouth disease. 

As the worldwide program for the eradication of smallpox achieved success in 
the 1970s and as new highly infectious diseases emerged which could not be 
treated safely in traditional quarantine stations, new facilities were established and 
all Australian quarantine stations were progressively closed. The Station, which 
was closed in March 1984, is now under the management of the National Parks 
and Wildlife Service. 

Between 1828 and 1984, at least 580 vessels were quarantined in Spring Cove 
(not including vessels which were quarantined briefly for cleansing or to unload 
cargoes for furmgation), and more than 13 000 people were quarantined there. An 
estimated 572 people were buried in the three burial grounds, some 50 of whom 
were brought from Sydney for burial during land outbreaks of smallpox and plague. 


In Quarantine 

Most were immigrants, some were Sydney residents who died during epidemics 
of smallpox and plague, others were returned First World War servicemen, including 
Italian Reservists, who died at the Station during the pneumonic influenza pandemic 

Inevitably where people were grouped together in a potentially life-threatening 
situation, the Station’s history includes acts of compassion and indifference, wisdom 
and ineptitude. There are many examples of self-sacrifice, when people volunteered 
for service during quarantines and succumbed to infection .There are also examples 
of intolerance, indifference and neglect, particularly during the early stages of the 
1881 smallpox epidemic. 

North Head is no longer a maritime quarantine station but its importance remains. 
The Station’s buildings, the rock carvings made by quarantined people and the 
gravestones of people who were buried there are a unique part of the Australian 
heritage. In particular, they stand as memorials to the courage, often born of 
desperation, of immigrants who sought a better future in a new land, and to the 
efforts of government administrators and the station’s staff to protect the health of 
the Australian people. 

in 1918-19. 



in memory of 
her hurband 


^ a^ed fl,7 yeivs 


s'cofta thy Sons do wander 
We fiwd our g* raves 

In many distant lands. 



When HMS Juno sailed into Sydney Harbour in early February 1855, the 
Quarantine Regulations observed in Port Jackson required the warship to wait 
near Pinchgut Island for a clearance (admission to pratique) by the port’s Health 
Officer before proceeding to one of Sydney’s wharves. When the Juno’s captain 
revealed that there had been an outbreak of smallpox amongst the crew on the 
voyage to the colony, the warship, flying the yellow quarantine flag, was immediately 
conducted to the Maritime Quarantine Station at the North Head of Sydney 
Harbour, where quarantined vessels were anchored in Spring Cove, and passengers 
and crews could be landed and housed on shore for the duration of the quarantine. 
There the ship, her crew, the unfortunate Harbour Pilot and his vessel, remained 
isolated for some weeks until the Health Officer was confident that no traces of 
smallpox remained to threaten the health of Sydney’s residents. 

The requirements for the performance of a maritime quarantine included 
extensive cleansing and purifying of the quarantined vessel together with the 
bedding, clothing and other personal effects of the people on board, with the aim 
of removing any possible source of infection. However, a severe drought had dried 
up the water supply at the Quarantine Station and water had to be sent from 
Sydney in a tank vessel. When the Juno’s captain was presented with a biU for the 
cost of the water, his angry protest described quarantined people as ‘those doomed 
to remain [at the Station] against their own will and without any control in the 
matter’.* The feelings of resentment and frustration which were evident in the 
captain’s protest were the common reaction of most people whose lives were 
disrupted by their enforced detention for periods which could extend from days 
to weeks until an infectious disease was brought under control. His use of the 
word ‘doomed ‘ was prophetic for more than 500 people who died at the Station 
between 1837, when it was officially appointed as a permanent establishment, and 
1984 when it was closed. 

For most people, quarantine was seen as a form of imprisonment imposed until 
a person assumed capable of spreading an infectious disease had proved his incapacity 
to do so. For governments imposing the quarantine, however, the curtailment of a 
person’s liberty, the disruption to trade and commerce and the high costs of 


In Quaflantine 

quarantine were justified as a means to an end, which was to protect the health of 
their people from imported infectious diseases. 

Until the late twentieth century, when smallpox was finally eradicated on a 
worldwide basis and the spread of most other infectious diseases could be controlled 
by the techniques of modern medicine, quarantine stations in ports-of-entry 
provided a reasonably effective barrier against the importation of diseases such as 
plague, cholera, smallpox, leprosy, typhus fever, typhoid fever and yellow fever, 
which could devastate the local population. Until the late nineteenth century, 
however, the use of quarantine stations to prevent the spread of infectious diseases 
was based on theories which had little scientific foundation. 

Experiments by Louis Pasteur and other scientists in the latter half of the 
nineteenth century began the process of identifying the causes of specific diseases 
and the way in which they were communicated — whether by vectors such as rats, 
fleas, lice and mosquitoes, by airborne droplets of saliva, contaminated food and 
liquid or by some form of contact with an infected person. But until these discoveries 
were made, the reason why an epidemic suddenly broke out in a healthy community 
remained as conjectural as it had been in 320 BC, when bubonic plague devastated 
the cities of the Philistines. Lacking the knowledge that plague was spread by 
infected rats and fleas, the Philistines decided that the epidemic was a punishment 
inflicted by the God of Israel who was angered by their capture from the Israelites 
of the Covenant Box containing the Ten Commandments. Accordingly they 
undertook various acts of appeasement which were judged to be successful when 
the epidemic eventually ran its course.^ 

Although this theory of divine wrath had many exponents in the following 
centuries, at least two other theories, the miasma theory and the contagion theory, 
had popular support. The miasma theory maintained that disease was spread by 
noxious emanations arising from stagnant water, putrefying animal or vegetable 
matter, and from the exhalations and secretions from the bodies of infected people.^ 
The contagion theory maintained that diseases were spread by contact with an 
infected person or infected fomites (certain types of substances, such as wool and 
hair) and that the seeds of diseases could endure in the air and on particular objects 
for a considerable time.‘‘This latter theory was the basis for the practice adopted in 
many quarantine stations until the late nineteenth century of either exposing certain 
cargoes to the air or immersing them in salt water for several days.® 

The concept of isolating an infected person to prevent the spread of disease was 
evident as early as biblical times in the treatment of lepers. Quarantine regulations 
were not officially adopted by governments, however, until the fourteenth century, 
when the plague pandemic known as the Black Death devastated Europe and 
killed an estimated 25 million people between 1346 and 1349.® Although the 
cause of plague was not then known, a link was observed between outbreaks of the 

The Beginnings of a Quarantine System 15 

disease and the arrival of people, vessels and trade from the Levant -where plague 
was endemic. Accordingly, from 1374 regulations were adopted in Venice and later 
in other places, which required people arriving from plague-infected areas to remain 
isolated from contact with the local population for 40 days (hence the term 
quarantine, which was derived from the Italian quaranta, meaning 40 days). 

In 1403 the first known maritime quarantine station was established in Venice, 
with anchorages for quarantined vessels in the canals of Fiscolo and Spignon and a 
lazaret (quarantine station) on the Island of Santa Maria di Nazareth where 
quarantined passengers and crews could be housed.’ Increasingly, other communities 
adopted quarantine regulations as a defence against plague and cholera, modelling 
their procedures on the Venetian example.* By the mid-eighteenth century quarantine 
stations were operating at Malta, Ancona, Venice, Messina, Leghorn, Genoa and 
Marseilles, where people could be landed and cargoes aired.’ (see illust page 23) 

From the outset, the value of quarantine was questioned. Early quarantine stations 
were unhygienic places which were often a source of infection; furthermore there 
were good reasons to suspect that some Greek merchants started rumours of plague 
to impose costly delays on rivals, with the result that cotton loaded in a 
Mediterranean port might take seven months to reach Britain.*® 

Since much of Britain’s prosperity as a trading nation depended on the free 
movement of shipping, many Britons were opposed to the adoption of quarantine 
regulations. By the late nineteenth century, however, quarantine stations were 
operating in twelve British ports under the control of Customs officials, although 
more in a spirit of doubtful precaution than conviction. 

Generally these were merely quarantine anchorages with floating hulks nearby 
where cargoes could be aired, although buildings were erected at Chetney Hill as 
an adjunct to the Standgate Creek Quarantine Station, at an initial cost in 1765 of 
£65 000.** Incoming vessels were met by a Superintendent of Quarantine who 
threw on board, on the end of a rope, a Bible enclosed in a metal box and required 
the vessel’s master to answer questions on oath about the health of the people on 
board. Depending on the answers, a vessel could be quarantined for a specified 
period under the supervision of a Quarantine Guardian.*’ 

There were well-established precedents, therefore, for the early adoption of 
quarantine regulations in Port Jackson to protect the colony of New South Wales 
from imported diseases. 

Reactions in Sydney to Infectious Diseases, 1788-1832 

Contemporary records reveal that various infectious diseases were carried onto the 
convict transport ships from the overcrowded, insanitary British gaols and from 
ports-of-call on the long voyage to Sydney. They also reveal that an epidemic 


In Quarantine 

occurred in the colony following the arrival of each of the first three fleets.*^ 
Nevertheless quarantine restrictions were not enforced in Port Jackson during 
the first sixteen years of settlement. In the wooden hospital which was erected in 
Sydney in late April 1788, and in adjacent tents, sick convicts shared an inadequate 
number of beds and bedding, irrespective of the nature of their ailments.*^ In part, 
the failure to isolate people who might be suffering fixjm an infectious disease was 
due to the type of ignorance about the causes of diseases illustrated when Lieutenant 
Daniel Southwell from HMS Sirius wrote to his mother on 5 April 1788 that: 

The principal disorder we suffer by here is the fever and flux, jointly. 

This has carried off several; these chiefly convicts. ‘Tis frequently fatal, 
but with good care, much often not so. There are various opinions 
about the cause, some attributing it to the water, some to the humidity 
of the ground, others to the season, others to the peculiarity of 
constitution, and that either of these causes may produce it in many, 
while others, equally in the way of all, continue to escape entirely.'* 

Even when a highly virulent disease, described in contemporary records as 
smallpox, caused the deaths of countless Aborigines in 1789, no attempts were 
made to avoid contact with infected Aborigines. On Governor Phillip’s instructions, 
work parties of convicts were sent to bury those who were found dead along the 
shores, and four infected Aborigines were brought into the hospital in late April 
1789, two of whom died.'* 

The Governor’s action in exposing the camp to what was obviously a virulent 
disease caused the colony’s Judge Advocate, David Collins, some alarm. He 
conceded, however, that it might impress the Aborigines with ‘our humanity and 
the benefits we might render them’ and remove ‘the evil impressions they had 
received of us’, a doubtful hope in view of the suspicion that the disease was 
brought by the First Fleet. In the event, only one of the crew of the Supply, who 
had been in contact with infected Aboriginal children, died from the disease, giving 
rise to later speculation that it might not have been smallpox since this should 
have infected many more of the colonists, few of whom had been inoculated.*’ 
But although both ignorance of the causes of diseases and local politics apparently 
influenced attitudes to diseases in the first years of settlement, an even stronger 
influence was the constant threat of starvation and the pervading sense of 
hopelessness. In a colony where men and women seemed to have so little future, 
disease was merely another hazard to be accepted and endured. By the late 
eighteenth century, however, conditions in the colony had improved and attention 
was being given to matters relating to public health. Government Orders were 
issued to prevent pollution of the Tank Stream, thought to be the origin of fluxes 
and other disorders of which several had died’.'® 

The Beginnings of a Quarantine System 


The arrival of the Second Fleet in 1790 had provided what the Rev. Richard 
Johnson described as ‘more horrid spectacles than had ever been witnessed in this 
country’. Many convicts were suffering from violent fever, others from ‘no less 
violent purging and flux’. A large number were unable to walk and were slung on 
ropes over the sides of the ships, some dying as they were rowed to shore. But on 
shore, sick convicts were housed in the crowded hospital and surrounding tents, 
irrespective of the nature of their illness.*’ 

The first step towards developing a quarantine system in Port Jackson was taken by 
Governor King in 1802, prompted mainly by reports of the sufiering of convicts on 
board the Royal Admiral in 1800 and Hercules and Atlas in 1802, much of which had 
been caused by breaches of contract by the vessels’ masters.^® On King’s instructions, a 
system of medical inspection of newly arrived vessels was instituted whereby Naval 
Surgeon John Harris was required to check the health on board all convict ships on 
arrival and report to the Governor. Provided there was no infectious disease present. 
King boarded each ship and questioned the convicts about their treatment on the 
voyage. The convicts were then transferred to the hulk Supply for two days, where 
they were ‘well washed and new cloathed’, before being drafted to different settlements.^* 
Recognising the danger to the colony’s 1,680 children if one of the convict ships 
arrived with smallpox on board, King also requested the British Government to send 
smallpox vaccine matter to the colony in 1803 and again in 1804.“ 

The first official quarantine regulation was proclaimed on 26 May 1 804, following 
advice of an epidemic of yellow fever in New York. Any vessel arriving in Port 
Jackson from New York was directed by the Naval Officer to anchor off Bradleys 
Point, and no one was to be permitted to go on board until proper precautions 
had been taken. “ On 8 January 1805 the whaler Richard and Mary, whose crew 
was suffering from ‘a dangerous fever’, became the first vessel to be quarantined in 
Port Jackson. On the Governor’s instructions, no communication whatsoever was 
permitted with the ship without his written permission. “ 

During the next several years the threat of ship-borne diseases diminished. There 
was better health on the convict ships, largely due to much closer supervision of 
conditions on board by the Commissioners of the Transport Board in London. 
But the situation changed in 1814, when the convict ships General Hewitt, Three 
Bees and Surrey arrived with ‘calamitous disease’ on board, thought to be typhus 
fever. Governor Macquarie immediately appointed a medical Court of Enquiry, 
and Assistant Surgeon WiUiam Redfern’s subsequent report on the reasons for the high 
mortahty on convict ships was despatched to the British government, where it may 
have influenced the decision to place a naval surgeon on board each convict ship.“ 
On 30 July 1814, the Surrey was placed under ‘the most rigid quarantine 
restrictions’. In what appears to be the first use of land on shore as a place of 
quarantine, the crew, convicts and guards were landed ‘on the North Shore of Port 


In Quarantine 

Jackson’, probably at Milsons Point, and housed in tents under the care of Principal 
Surgeon D’Arcy Wentworth and Assistant Surgeon William Redfern.The surgeons’ 
‘humane and skilful’ efforts were warmly praised by Governor Macquarie when 
the quarantine ended on 18 August.^* 

No further quarantine seems to have taken place until the convict ship Morley 
arrived in March 1828 with some of the soldiers’ children infected with whooping 
cough. Neither the ship’s master nor her surgeon reported that there was whooping 
cough on board, and there was free communication with the shore population. 
When the presence of disease became known, the ship was immediately quarantined 
in Neutral Bay and the schooner Alligator was moored alongside for use as a hospital 
ship. However, the quarantine was imposed too late; almost every family in the 
colony was affected by the disease and Governor Darling’s young son was amongst 
those who died.^^ 

The Quarantine of Convicts at North Head, 1828 

Despite the earlier dire consequences, no immediate action was taken to prevent 
vessels with an infectious disease on board from docking at a Sydney wharf until 
the convict ship Bussorah Merchant arrived on 27 July 1828, and the ship’s master 
dined in Sydney before it became known that there had been an outbreak of 
smallpox during the voyage to Australia. 

At a meeting of the Executive Council of the New South Wales Legislative 
Council on 29 July, detailed measures were adopted for the quarantine. Passengers 
(other than convicts) were quarantined on shore at Neutral Bay, where a military 
guard sent from Sydney ensured that ‘neither whites nor blacks’ were allowed 
within gunshot of the camp. In what appears to be the first use of North Head as 
a quarantine station, the Governor’s Proclamation on 2 August 1828 directed that 
the convicts and their guards were to be landed and housed in tents at North Head 
‘on a point of land which has been selected in Spring Cove’ under the care of the 
ship’s surgeon-superintendent. 

The Alligator was moored in Spring Cove as a hospital ship. On the advice of the 
Principal Colonial Surgeon, Dr J. Bowman, and the Staff Surgeon to the Forces, 
Dr D. McLeod, all quarantined people were vaccinated unless they could show 
that this had already been done. The convicts and guards were required to wash in 
-warm water on landing, and were then given new clothing and bedding. Used 
clothing, bedding and other articles suspected of carrying infection were destroyed, 
and convicts were kept in separate groups to prevent the disease spreading. The 
ship was cleansed, fumigated and whitewashed and all timbers which formed the 
sleeping berths were burned. On 17 August, the quarantine ended after the 
Executive Council had been assured by Drs Bowman and McLeod that the ship 

The BEorNNiNGS of a Quarantine System 


could be safely released. Permission was given to land the ship’s cargo, but the 
crew were not allowed on shore. 

Soon after the quarantine began, steps were taken to prevent other vessels docking 
with an infectious disease on board. By Government Orders published in the 
Sydney Gazette on 4 and 6 August 1 828, all vessels arriving in Port Jackson excepting 
coasters and vessels from Van Diemen’s land, were required to anchor at Neutral 
Bay and forbidden communication with shore until given authority to do so by 
the Harbour Master. 

In the Sydney Gazette on 30 July 1828, Governor Darling’s measures to guard 
the health of the colony received ‘the most fervent commendation of a deeply 
interested community’. Importantly, the quarantine had made it clear that public 
opinion supported the enforcement of quarantine regulations in Port Jackson and 
that North Head was a suitable place for quarantines. 

The Quarantine Act, 1832 

On 6 May 1830, the Mermaid was quarantined because two convicts had died from 
smallpox on the voyage to the colony, and on 21 October 1832 the Byron was 
quarantined off Shark Island because of sickness amongst the crew.^’ In these, as in all 
earlier quarantines, the colony’s governor had used the powers vested in him by the 
British government without, however, the sanction of quarantine legislation. 

It was unlikely in the early years of penal settlement that the legality of a governor’s 
actions would be challenged by the masters of convict ships, who were frequently 
on the defensive about conditions on their ships. The decision taken in 1831, 
however, to encourage immigration with funds obtained from the sale of Crown 
land, had signalled that the nature of the penal colony was changing. In 1831, 34 
immigrant ships arrived from Britain and Ireland to be followed by 63 ships in 
1832.^® Their masters, who planned a quick turnaround in Port Jackson with a 
profitable cargo of wool, tallow or whale oil for the return voyage, might well be 
disposed to challenge delays in quarantine which had no legal authority. 

Governor Bourke’s recognition of the need for quarantine legislation was 
sharpened by the threat of cholera. In October 1831 Asiatic cholera, which had 
extended pandemically from India in 1817, breached Britain’s quarantine defences 
in the first of three major epidemics during which an estimated 23 000 people 
died. Cholera had also been carried in the water supplies of overcrowded immigrant 
ships to the North American colonies, where thousands of immigrants died of 
cholera or kindred diseases. Against this frightening scenario, Bourke learned in 
1832 that cholera had appeared on a convict transport ship bound for Sydney, and 
decided that the time had come to alleviate the ‘considerable alarm in the public mind’ 
by adopting quarantine legislation to control the entry of vessels to Port Jackson.^^ 


In Quarantine 

On 28 July 1832 the Governor, with the advice of the Legislative Council of 
New South Wales, passed the first Quarantine Act {An Act for subjecting Vessels 
coming to New South Wales Jrom certain places to the performance of Quarantine), which 
was despatched to Britain for Royal Assent on 30 October 1832. The Act was 
based on the 1 825 British Quarantine Act and had many defects in its drafting, but 
it was adequate for Bourke’s immediate purpose.” Under its provisions, all vessels, 
goods and passengers arriving from any place proclaimed to be infected with 
cholera or any other infectious disease ‘highly dangerous to the health of His 
Majesty’s subjects in the Colony of New South Wales’ became liable for the 
performance of quarantine. Amongst other provisions. Section 3 authorised the 
appointment of quarantine stations, or places within the harbour of Port Jackson, 
where quarantine was to be performed. 

On 1 October 1832, the Act was supplemented by Quarantine Regulations to be 
observed in the Harbour of Port Jackson, New South Wales 1832.^* Under these, the 
master of every vessel arriving firom overseas was required to provide written answers 
to questions on a printed form given to him by the Harbour Pilot, with a view to 
establishing whether or not the vessel had called at any infected port, communicated 
with any infected vessel or experienced an outbreak of infectious disease during 
the voyage. As a further precaution, the ship’s surgeon was also to be required to 
sign the master’s report. Fines ranging from ;£100 to were imposed for any 

breach of the Regulations. 

In Deference to ^Popular Feelings* 

Shortly after the Quarantine Act was passed in the colony, a despatch was received 
from the British Colonial Secretary, Viscount Goderich, enclosing a copy of a 
paper drawn up by the Central Board of Health in London on the subject of 
quarantine. The weight of the Board’s argument was against the old concept of 
protracted detention of all vessels arriving from an infected port and in favour of a 
shorter period of quarantine for cholera. In the Board’s opinion, quarantine was 
not merely unavailing but positively injurious because of the distress and panic it 
caused. The relief of pauperism and the prevention of drunkenness, the Board 
suggested, might better mitigate the progress of disease. 

Goderich’s covering letter revealed an ambivalent attitude to the Board’s report. 
He recognised that the outbreaks of cholera in England and Scotland had been 
inexplicably random, supporting the Board’s arguments against the effectiveness of 
quarantine. But he also recognised the strong commercial arguments in favour of 
quarantine, which had been used by Liverpool’s merchants to persuade the British 
government to place quarantine embargoes on all vessels arriving from any infected 
ports in the hope that vessels sailing from Liverpool with clean Bills of Health 

The Beginnings of a Quarantine System 


would not be delayed in quarantine in foreign ports. 

On balance, Goderich considered that he would be ‘far better satisfied to err on 
the side of caution from deference to popular feehngs, than on that of temerity 
from respect to any Scientific authorities, however eminent’. He therefore advised 
Bourke that he would not oppose any decisions the colony had taken to quarantine 
vessels. But on one point he was adamant: there were to be no unnecessary 
quarantine restrictions on British vessels.^® 

On 14 August 1832 Governor Bourke proclaimed that ‘all vessels on which the 
cholera or other disease shall have appeared during the last thirty days previous to 
their arrival shall be conducted by the pilots to Spring Cove’, where they were to 
remain in quarantine in accordance with the Quarantine Act, and that all other 
vessels were ‘to be brought up to Shark’s Island’ until given instructions by the 
officers of Customs.^* 

Goderich’s letter had included advice on the selection of a suitable place for 
quarantine, displaying that tendency on the part of British government officials to 
discount local knowledge, which so vexed the colonists from time to time. The 
North Head of Sydney Harbour, formerly a hunting and fishing ground for 
dispossessed Aborigines, had already been selected. With a deep, safe anchorage for 
vessels in Spring Cove (occasionally used by whalers), sloping sandy beaches for 
ease in landing people and airing cargoes, and fresh water draining from swamp 
ground above Quarantine Beach, the area was well suited for a maritime quarantine 
station. Importantly, the area was remote from Sydney residents. 

No problem was foreseen about the difficulty of ferrying people and supplies 
across the harbour in bad weather, which later caused the Government Clerk of 
Works, J. White, to report plaintively on 16 March 1852 that, ‘My boat is a very 
small one and on the 28th February when I did go down, I was caught in a 
Southerly Squall and was 5 hours pulling up from the rough seas and completely 
wet through’.^’ If the difficulty of access to the Station in bad weather was raised 
in 1832, it was probably dismissed with the faint contempt shown by the Colonial 
Secretary, E. Deas Thomson, when he wrote during a quarantine in 1838: ‘The 
members of the Medical Board appointed by you to proceed to the William Rogers 
[sic] having expressed themselves afraid to encounter the roughness of water in the 
Harbour, I am directed by the Governor to inform you that three Naval Surgeons 
have been instructed to perform the duty’.^* 

Although by Proclamation on 14 August 1832 Spring Cove had been appointed 
as the place where vessels were to perform quarantine, the need to appoint a place 
on shore where people could be landed, and cargoes aired, had been overlooked. 
The reminder came when the Prince Regent arrived on 19 February 1833, not only 
with a noteworthy ‘number of respectable passengers’, but also with smallpox on 
board.^"* On 21 February 1833, Governor Bourke proclaimed that: 


In Quarantine 

... it was expedient in certain cases, with a view to the more speedy 
Recovery of Persons and the airing of Goods, Wares or Merchandise 
on board ofVessels performing Quarantine at the said Station [Spring 
Cove], that a Place should be appointed on the adjoining Shore where 
such Persons and Goods, Wares and Merchandise may be landed under 
Quarantine... [and]... that the whole of the land within a quarter of a 
mile of high water mark on the Shore of Spring Cove shall be a Station 
for the performance of quarantine, according to the several provisions 
of the said recited Act.^® 

No need was seen to erect buildings or appoint permanent quarantine staff; 
quarantine arrangements were to be made on an ad hoc basis for the duration of 
each quarantine, with the government meeting the administrative costs. The 
plight of immigrants huddled in tents at the Quarantine Station had yet to stir the 
governments conscience. 

The Quarantine of the Immigrant ship Canton, 1835 

By 1 July 1834, the comparatively healthy state of people on board vessels arriving 
in Port Jackson gave Governor Bourke confidence to rescind his Proclamation of 
14 August 1832, although the Port’s Quarantine Regulations remained in force.^^ 
On 3 September 1835, however, the Quarantine Station was again needed for the 
first quarantine of an immigrant ship, the Canton, on which there had been fourteen 
smallpox cases, two of whom had died. 

At an urgent meeting of the Executive Council plans for the quarantine were 
approved. Dr Alick Osborne, a half-pay naval surgeon, was placed in charge of the 
quarantine, and a supply of cowpock virus was immediately despatched to Osborne 
for vaccination purposes. Under his supervision, the immigrants were landed on 
shore where some 230 people were housed ‘in 6 Bell Tents and two of a larger 
description’ until 8 October 1835, during which time heavy rain and hail added 
greatly to their discomfort. 

It appears that the disease was already under control by the time the Canton 
arrived, and so there was no separation of the sick from the healthy as would 
otherwise have happened. The quarantine of 35 days was a mandatory period 
prescribed as sufficient time to allow any incubating cases of smallpox to emerge, 
during which various cleansing and purifying operations had to be performed to 
remove any likely source of infection. As part of the cleansing procedures, the 
ship’s berths were dismantled and formed into a raft which was sunk at Quarantine 
Beach for several days; other cleansing procedures resembled those described by 
the Port’s Health Officer in 1 853 as follows : 

The Beginnings of a Quarantine System 


When the people are landed their effects are landed with them. They 
are furnished with soap, and made to wash every article of clothing. 

Their bedding, also, is thoroughly cleaned or destroyed; and at the 
same time, the ship is thoroughly cleansed. The sleeping berths of the 
Immigrants are taken down, carried to the shore and scrubbed; the 
ship’s decks scraped and washed with solution of chloride of lime; the 
ship’s hold pumped out, Burnet’s solution of chloride of zinc being 
directed to be thrown down the hold.The immigrants and others having 
been landed, the ports and scuttles are directed to be kept open so 
there is an uninterrupted circulation of air between the decks. 

The Canton carried a large complement of single women whose conduct had been 
closely monitored during the voyage and who had been locked up in their quarters 
each night. Since official concern for the moral welfare of female immigrants vras at 
least as great, if not greater, than concern for their physical well-being. Dr Osborne 
was careful to report to the Colonial Secretary that he intended to keep the crew on 
board the Canton during the quarantine, ‘ being apprehensive we -will not possess the 
same control on shore without the aid of Bolts and Bars’. 

Until early 1837 no further use was made of the Station, although it is debatable 
whether the vessels arriving in port were free of infectious diseases at a time when 
obscure cases of ‘ship fever’ were seldom recognised as a threat to the colony.^* 
There was no doubt, however, of the need for the most stringent quarantine 
measures when the immigrant ship Lady MacNaghten arrived in Port Jackson with 
over 70 cases of virulent fever on board. The ship’s voyage and subsequent quarantine 
played a significant role in the history of quarantine, drawing attention to the need to 
improve conditions on the immigrant ships and convincing the colonial government 
of the need to estabHsh a permanent quarantine station at North Head. 

An eighteenth century quarantine station (lazaretto) in Genoa, Italy 

Passengers and cargoes were landed from the quarantined vessels and isolated under guard within the walls of the lazaretto. 
Quarantined people were housed in 'apartments’, usually without any attempt to separate infected people; access was permitted 
to the ‘courts’ and areas' shown in the plan. Cargoes were aired and fumigated before release from the lazaretto. The plan 
was adapted by Belinda Elliott from an illustration in John Howard's An Account of the Principal Lazaretto in Europe... London, 
1789 (Mitchell Library). 

Burying Place Open 
to the Sea 

Entrance for 
Infected Goods 

Entrance for 
Suspicious Goods 

Burying Place Open 
to the Sea 



A Calamitous Voyage, 4 November 1836 - 26 February 1837 

By 1 836 there was a strongly held view in the colony that, although many advantages 
had been gained from the transportation of convicts, the time had come for 
encouraging ‘an extensive introduction of free and virtuous inhabitants’ to overcome 
the shortage of skilled labour.’ But despite offers of assisted passages on 
government-chartered immigrant ships and of bounty payments to colonists who 
brought suitable people to the colony, few people with the required skiUs arrived. 
There was httle attraction in the prospect of the long hazardous voyage under sail 
and of leaving famiUes, friends and familiar places for the uncertainties of life in a 
distant land which was still largely a penal colony. 

Except for an adventurous few, most immigrants were unskilled people with 
large families, causing complaints from settlers about the expense of providing 
rations for the numerous children of the immigrants they employed.^ Some of the 
people selected by various British emigration committees were found on arrival to 
be either too old or infirm to find employment, causing further complaints that 
the committees were more concerned with relieving British parishes of the care of 
the destitute, than selecting suitable immigrants for the colony. 

Attempting to overcome this problem. Governor Bourke sent at least two naval 
surgeons to England in 1836, chosen because they were familiar with the 
employment needs of the colony and could assist in selecting suitable immigrants.^ 
One of these. Dr A. Osborne, was instructed to proceed to Ireland to assist in the 
selection for assisted passage on the immigrant ship Lady MacNaghten* : ‘blacksmiths, 
masons, carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, stone cutters and agricultural labourers, 
together with their wives and families, and any unmarried females between the 
ages of fifteen and thirty years, who may emigrate in company with a married 
couple, and who will remain under their protection on their arrival in the Colony 
until otherwise provided for’.^ 

Osborne was delayed, however, by a series of misfortunes. A service wound to 
his leg kept him confined to his room in London for four weeks, and then he was 

* This is the spelling used in government despatches and by the ship’s master. Lloyd’s Register of Shipping 
shows the name as Lady MacNaghton 

The Lady Macnaghten 


severely bruised when the coach in which he was travelling was overturned. By 
the time he arrived in Cork on 15 October 1836, the Emigration Committee had 
already selected 68 families and 30 young women, for whose suitability as 
immigrants he disclaimed all responsibility.® His misgivings were shared by the 
surgeon- superintendent of the Lady MacNaghten, Dr J. A. Hawkins, who wrote 
in his journal unjoining the ship : 

The number of adult males consisting of 77, of these I should say about 
50 might be called useful, respectable men in their walk of life; the 
remaining 20 seem in appearance and habits a very inferior class, being 
ill clad and most of them entirely unprovided with any change of wearing 
apparel ...I cannot help hazarding an opinion, that if possible it would 
be very desirable to avoid engaging famihes with infants and children 
under two or three years of age.® 

Later, he observed wryly that it might have been supposed from the emaciated 
appearance of many when they came on board that they were taking the voyage to 
recover their lost health.’ 

Poverty and malnutrition had already seriously undermined the health of many 
who would have found the rigorous voyage difficult even under the best 
circumstances. There had been no attempt to make sure that they had adequate 
clothing and some had only the threadbare clothes they wore. Although there was 
an outbreak of scarlet fever in Cork, there was no medical inspection prior to 
embarkation and a mother carried her sick child on board on her back. His death 
some days later from what Hawkins described a? ' fever and exhaustion’ signalled the 
beginning of widespread sickness and deaths amongst the 189 children on board.® 

On 4 November 1836 the Lady MacNaghten, a vessel of 558 tons, set sail on a 
four-month voyage via the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived in Port Jackson on 
26 February 1837 without touching at any port. On board were the ship’s master 
G. Hustwick, his wife, a crew of 30, Dr Hawkins, and 412 immigrants to the 
colony, most of whom travelled in steerage class between decks. On the voyage 10 
adults and 44 children died, mainly from typhus fever and scarlet fever, and 14 
people died in the lengthy quarantine which followed. ’Their voyage and quarantine 
became an important part of the history of quarantine, focusing attention on the 
need to improve conditions on board the immigrant ships and to establish a 
permanent quarantine station in Port Jackson. 

Soon after the ship’s arrival, a Board of Inquiry was appointed by Governor 
Bourke to investigate both the causes for the sickness and deaths on the voyage, and 
the complaints made by a number of the immigrants about their treatment. The 
board’s report, which was sent to the British government, prompted the newly 
appointed British Agent-General for Immigration, T. F. Elliott, to recommend measures 
to improve conditions on immigrant ships which were immediately approved.'® 


In Quarantine 

The report attributed the high mortality on the voyage to four main reasons, 
summarised by Bourke as (i) Dr Hav^^kins’ lack of naval experience; (ii) an excess 
of private cargo; (iii) the neglect of a medical examination of the passengers to 
exclude any existing contagious disease before embarkation and (iv) an insufficient 
supply of medicines and medical comforts." In the board’s opinion the vessel was 
overcrowded, although it acknowledged that there were only two passengers more 
than the number allowed by the Act of Parliament regulating the carriage of 
passengers in merchant vessels, which permitted three adults to be carried for 
every five tons of the vessel’s registered burthen (calculating as equivalent to one 
adult, either two children aged 7-14 years or three children under 7 years ). 

The report revealed the extent of the overcrowding between-decks in steerage 
class where the accommodation for immigrants was divided into a male and a 
female area, each with two tiers of berths. Each berth was an average size of 6 feet 
by 3 feet and was divided by a plank to provide beds for two adults or the statutory 
equivalent number of children. In the male area, 50 berths were provided for 78 
men, 38 boys between 7 and 14 years and 6 boys between 1 and 6 years. In the 
female area, 6 berths were reserved as a hospital, and the remaining 106 berths 
accommodated 145 women, 40 girls between 7 and 14 years and 105 infants of 
both sexes. Adding to the diSiculties of so many people crammed into such a 
small area, the ship’s hold had been filled not only with provisions (including 25 
tons of potatoes which, until they became rotten, formed the staple diet of the 
immigrants in the first weeks of the voyage), but also with the affreighter’s private 
cargo, making it necessary to store luggage between-decks, where it obstructed 
light and ventilation. 

At the time of embarkation. Dr Hawkins had attempted to lessen the amount of 
space needed for luggage by ordering the immigrants to open their luggage. To 
the resentment of many, their meagre but precious possessions were emptied onto 
the deck from any half-full boxes which were then returned to shore. Despite such 
efforts, the ship was so crowded that Captain Hustwick refused to sail, and 
summoned on board the Emigration Agent J. D. Pinnock, the local Emigration 
Officer Lieutenant Friend, the ship’s affreighter J. Marshall, and the Mayor of 
Cork, to inspect between-decks where the berths could only be reached by a 
narrow aisle between the luggage. Although the mayor expressed his fears that half 
the immigrants would die before they reached their destination, Hustwick finally 
agreed to sail on the understanding that luggage would be transferred to the hold 
as provisions were used and space became available." 

In apportioning some blame for the subsequent deaths to Dr Hawkins, 26, the 
Board of Inquiry described him as: ‘a man of very excellent Character and of 
respectable Acquirements with regard to his Professional knowledge, [but] quite 
inexperienced in respect to the duty he undertook, and wholly deficient of the 

The Lady Macnachten 


knowledge necessary for the establishment of proper regulations and of the firmness 
to enforce them; in consequence of which no proper rules for the preservation of 
order, cleanliness and ventilation were laid down; dirt and filth accumulated in 
every direction, and disease naturally was the consequence’.*^ The justice of the 
board’s criticism is arguable, given the great problems Hawkins faced as he coped 
with accidents, births, miscarriages, diseases variously described as scarlet fever, 
scarlatina, measles, chincough, whooping cough, consumption, typhus fever and 
spasmodic cholera, together with other ailments.** 

Difficulty in enforcing rules for cleanfiness and good order was a common 
experience for most surgeon-superintendents on immigrant ships throughout the 
nineteenth century. Nor was the difficulty necessarily overcome if they had naval 
experience. Commenting on the difficulty. Dr D. Thomson, R N, 
surgeon-superintendent on the John Barry in 1837, told a select committee on 
immigration: ‘ I feel a difficulty in suggesting any measure that would give the 
Surgeon-superintendent useful authority.The circumstance of their [the emigrants] 
being allowed a firee passage, appears to create in them a feeling of their own 
importance, and consequent unwillingness to be directed or advised.’** 

From the beginning of the voyage, Hawkins encountered behaviour which 
caused him to write on 17 December, by which time fever was ‘severe and general’: 
‘I regret to say there is no sort of common feeUng amongst our family; their chief 
pleasure appears to be to torment one another. This is not much to be wondered 
at when we look at the varied grades of beings placed in the nearest appositions 
with each other when their habits, feelings & dispositions are entirely different.’*’ 

Hawkins’ journal reveals that he established rules regarding cleanliness and 
discipline, but human nature, special circumstances, and contemporary lack of 
knowledge about the causes of diseases combined to lessen their effectiveness. He 
required between-decks to be regularly cleansed with chloride of lime and hot 
vinegar, but the half-hearted efforts of immigrants rostered for cleaning duties had 
little effect on the fetid atmosphere. On warm days he required the immigrants to 
air their bedding on deck, but the lice which spread typhus fever remained.** 
Weekly, he ordered people to wash their clothes on deck from 6 a.m. onwards. 
However, about one-third had only a single change of clothing and many had 
only the clothes they wore. Some defied his rules and washed clothes at night, 
hanging them to dry where they blocked what little ventilation existed below 
decks, where none of the side portholes were opened and luggage and latticework 
around the hatches blocked the circulation of air. Fearing the ship would become 
‘a complete charnel house’, he offered a reward of ^3 for the names of the 

At mealtime, the immigrants were grouped into messes of eight people, as far 
as possible keeping families together. In hindsight, Hawkins decided that it might 


In Quarantine 

have been better if three-year-old to 8-year-old children had been grouped separately 
and two matrons appointed to prepare and supervise their meals, since he 'repeatedly 
detected the Parents consuming the Wine, Spirits and other Medical comforts allowed 
for the nourishment & support of their sick progeny’. He was angered on discovering 
‘that a system of intimidation exists to prevent women and children taking the gruel 
as prepared according to my instructions in the proportion of 3 gallons of Meal to 18 
gallons of water; the object appears to be to get the Meal in substance for the purpose 
of converting it into cakes for the use of the men who seem entirely unregardful of 
the necessities of the women and children’.^® Work parties were rostered for cleaning 
duties but the work was unpopular and avoided whenever possible. When Hawkins 
became ill. Captain Hustwick had to order all cooking fires to be extinguished before 
some aggrieved men agreed to clean between decks.^' 

Hawkins also ruled that whenever the weather was fine, all immigrants who 
were well enough should appear on deck for fresh air. There was no resistance as 
the ship sailed through the tropics; indeed the Board of Inquiry was told that the 
chief mate sometimes used a cane to compel reluctant women to return below 
decks at the appointed times. On other occasions, however, his orders were ignored 
until, exasperated, he decreed that rations were not to be served to ‘lazy’ people. 

There were, of course, two sides to all such disputes. Some people were fearful 
of conditions on the top deck, particularly after a man was washed overboard. 
Others complained that once they appeared, they were prevented from returning 
below decks for hours on end: ‘Think you what a state the women must be in, 
when kept the whole day on decks? The consequence was, it produced complaints 
which dehcacy forbids me now to mention,’ wrote one of the immigrants responding 
to criticisms in the Sydney Herald on 8 March, in which some immigrants had 
been described as the ‘lowest of the low’.^^ 

Attempting to delegate responsibility, Hawkins appointed matrons and 
sub-matrons from amongst the married women to supervise the single women 
and to act as nurses. He also appointed a male nurse, a schoolteacher and a clerk to 
assist at Sunday’s Divine Service. Male immigrants were recruited to distribute 
rations, undertake various chores and to carry sick people in their arms up to the 
top deck for fresh air.“ But when tempers flared in the confined quarters, people 
often withdrew their services, a problem overcome to some extent on later 
immigrant ships by requiring adults to sign an agreement before embarkation to 
undertake work as directed. 

One of the heart-rending aspects of life on early immigrant ships was the high 
mortality rate amongst infants when seasickness, stress and unsuitable food dried 
up their mothers’ milk. By 9 December 1836, ten young children had already 
died from what Hawkins described as ‘the joint influence of the bad weather at 
starting & the prevalence of measles and fever’. Regrettably, the small supply of 

The Lady Macnaghten 


medical comforts on board did not include easily digestible food and there were 
no small cooking utensils to prepare invalid meals. In his opinion many of the 
babies would have been saved if their mothers could have been given more suitable 

Lacking knowledge about the causes and control of the fever, Hawkins used his 
limited supply of medicines to alleviate symptoms. Diarrhoea was treated with 
powdered chalk, constipation with castor oil and, in severe cases, with an enema of 
croton oil and turpentine. Usually he attempted to reduce fever by ‘free bleeding’ 
up to 16 ounces of blood (sometimes twice, after an interval of six hours), followed 
by an emetic and one or two active purges.To enable his patients to bear extensive 
suppurations, he administered doses of up to four glasses of wine mixed with 
quinine. Blistering ointment and mustard packs were also used to reduce fever. 

When checking stocks of medicines and medical comforts before sailing, Hawkins 
had never envisaged a situation in which outbreaks of infectious diseases could 
sweep through the ship to the extent that almost every berth was occupied by a 
sick adult or child. By 12 December, supplies of medicine and medical comforts 
were dangerously low, despite supplements from Captain Hustwick’s private store. 
By 20 January, most of the medical supplies were exhausted and people endured 
their sufferings as best they could. 

From the beginning of the voyage, conditions for the sick were deplorable. In 
the so-called hospital area, the light was so dim even with the stern ports open, 
that Hawkins found it impossible to dispense medicine or perform the most trivial 
operation with security or comfort. There was neither lamp, bench, chair, stool, 
water basins nor towel for medical or surgical use; nor were there any lockers for 
safekeeping medical comforts, which were stolen on occasions.^* 

By 4 January 1837, Hawkins was suffering from the onset of typhus fever as he 
struggled to perform his duties. He collapsed delirious on 8 January and one of the 
crew, who had worked with a London surgeon, took over his duties. Hustwick 
and his officers also helped wherever possible, although by that time many of the 
crew lay dangerously ill in their quarters, described pityingly by Hawkins as a most 
wretched hole, full of draughts, darkness and smoke. 

Hawkins rallied sufficiently on 26 January 1838 to be carried to the poop, 
where for some days he saw those patients who could be brought to him. On 20 
February, as the ship sailed along the Australian coast, entries in his journal ceased. 
If he had lived, he may not have defended himself from the board’s criticism, since 
he blamed himself for the inadequate supply of medicines and medical comforts. 
He was not required, however, to justify the way in which he coped with the 
terrible burden of his duties in an age when so little was known about infectious 
diseases. The young doctor died on the quarantined ship in Spring Cove on 2 
March 1838 after what was described ‘as a night of dreadful suffering’.^* 


In Quarantine 

A Desperate Quarantine, 26 February - 9 May 1837 

The first warning that a ship was approaching Sydney with an infectious disease on 
board came on 23 February 1837 when HMS Rattlesnake, carrying Governor 
Bourke on an inspection visit to Port Phillip, spoke with the iMdy MacNaghten 200 
miles south of Sydney. On learning that Dr Hawkins was too ill to help the sick, 
Assistant Surgeon John Bowler was transferred at sea to the Lady MacNaghten where 
he found ‘upwards of seventy cases in bed quite incapable of rendering themselves 
the least assistance and most of a very virulent description’. Bourke immediately 
sent a message to the Colonial Secretary, E. Deas Thomson, warning him of an 
impending quarantine.^’ 

When the ship arrived on 26 February, by which time at least 90 people were 
infected with typhus fever, she was immediately piloted to Spring Cove with her 
yellow quarantine flag flying. A joint report from Dr Bowler and Dr J. Stuart, 
Colonial Assistant Surgeon, who was sent on board to determine the nature of the 
sickness, stated that the disease was 'contageous, our opinion being supported by 
the Circumstance of whole Families becoming attacked at very short intervals’.^® 

At a meeting of the Executive Council of the New South Wales Legislative 
Council on 27 February, which was also attended by Dr J. N. Thompson (Deputy 
Inspector General of Hospitals), Dr I. Reid (80th Regiment) and Dr A Savage (R 
N), a plan for the quarantine was approved. It was decided that people who were 
infected with the disease should remain on the ship. All who were considered 
healthy or convalescent would be landed on shore at North Head, where tents and 
sheds would be erected for shelter and a military guard would patrol the quarantine 
boundaries. Later that day the members of the Executive Council, the 
Harbourmaster, the Colonial Architect and the Acting Brigade Major were ferried 
on a steamer to Spring Cove to choose the site for the tents. Also on board was a 
military guard to patrol the Station’s boundaries, consisting of two sergeants, two 
corporals and 21 soldiers.®* 

In a stream of letters beginning on 28 February, the Colonial Secretary 
implemented the plans for the quarantine. Dr Bowler was instructed to disembark 
on the following day all who were healthy or convalescent, in two separate groups. 
All typhus fever cases were to remain on board under Bowler’s care, with the 
assistance of Dr Stuart, and measures were to be taken to have the ship cleansed 
and fumigated, and converted to a hospital ship. All contaminated bedding and 
clothing were to be destroyed. 

People quarantined on shore were placed under the supervision of Dr C. Inches, 
an experienced naval surgeon. His charges were to be informed that they were not 
permitted to cross the boundary lines, and that anyone who did so would be shot 
by the sentries, whose muskets were loaded with ball cartridge. Two convicts were 

The Lady Macnagmten 


assigned both to Inches and to the military guard to erect fences, chop firewood 
and carry water. Fresh fruit and vegetables from the Royal Botanic Gardens and 
other provisions from Sydney’s markets were despatched to North Head. Daily 
rations were to be issued to the immigrants in the proportion for each adult of one 
and a quarter pounds of wheaten flour, 12 ounces of fresh beef, 8 ounces of 
vegetables, one-half ounce of salt, one and a half ounces of sugar, 4 ounces of tea 
and 4 ounces of soap. 

James Spink, a tide waiter in the Customs Office, was appointed Superintendent 
of Quarantine with duties which included the distribution of provisions and stores. 
He was instructed to disinfect all documents leaving the Station by placing them 
over burning sulphur and charcoal and then soaking them in vinegar, 'so as not to 
obhterate the writing, yet taking care that it is sufficiently done’. A cutter was hired 
for per day for his use, and he was allocated two convicts as boatmen to ‘ row 
guard’ the shoreline at night.” A steamboat, which normally provided a ferry service 
to Parramatta, was hired to depart from Wilson’s Wharf at DarHng Harbour around 
11 a.m. each day to carry supphes to the Station, which were to be left outside a 
double fence erected at the landing stage for distribution by Spink. 

It seems that James Spink was a somewhat truculent individual, and he was soon 
at loggerheads with the doctors over mistakes in dehveries. Matters came to a head 
on 25 March when Captain Hustwick and Dr Stuart were being rowed to shore to 
prepare a grave for a young woman who had died on the ship, and Stuart overheard 
Spink asking his crew why they had not fired at Stuart’s boat, presumably for a 
suspected breach of quarantine in going on shore. Stuart complained to the Colonial 
Secretary that when he drew alongside Spink’s cutter to ask for an explanation, 
Spink used ‘ the grossest language’. Spink was immediately replaced by J. Roach , 
the captain of the revenue cutter Prince George.^^ 

Although the plan for the quarantine seemed sound in theory, in practice there 
were many problems. Considerable difficulties were caused by a timetable which 
did not work. Inches, on arrival at the Station at 5 p.m on 28 February, found that 
disembarkation of convalescent and healthy people was well under way and there 
was ‘ much confusion and dissatisfaction’. The working party sent from Sydney 
had not erected sufficient tents and many people spent the night without shelter 
or blankets. He found that bedding was ‘almost universally in a most revolting condition 
and totally unfit for preserving, many of the wretched creatures have none, their beds 
having been thrown overboard’. Medicine chests had not arrived, axes were needed 
for chopping wood, pails for carrying water and utensils for cooking food: ‘our wants 
are numerous and severely felt’. Inches wrote desperately to the Colonial Secretary. 

On the following morning. Inches found ‘the scenes of misery, wretchedness 
and diseases which were everywhere presented were truly appalling’. A number of 
typhus cases were sent back to the ship; compassionately he allowed dying children 


In Quarantine 

to remain with their parents. A few days later, Inches was able to report that with 
the help of Henry Bingham, a cabin passenger, he had been able to create some 
order, and 265 people had been grouped by families into 36 tents and given an 
adequate supply of palliasses, blankets and provisions.^^ 

Sickness persisted on shore, however, with as many as 50 people on the daily 
sick list, mostly from what Inches described as debility either from fever or bowel 
complaints. Conditions in the tents were severe. Reporting the death of Janet 
Lapslie, 29 years, a dressmaker from Glasgow, Inches wrote that the vicissitudes of 
the weather were too much for her and she died from exhaustion; the temperature 
at sunrise had been 63 degrees and 100 degrees F at 1 p.m. when she died. Janet 
Lapslie’s husband, William, an agricultural labourer, had died on the voyage three 
weeks earlier. Probably her bereavement, her fears for the future and a longing for 
the misty skies of her homeland undermined her will to live before she gave up the 
struggle for existence in a harsh new land.^® 

On board the ship, the problems for Drs Bowler and Stuart centred on the care 
of some 70 people, most of whom were gravely ill and suffering intensely. Urgent 
requisitions for medicines were sent to the Sydney Infirmary (later named Sydney 
Hospital), including a request for 500 leeches, or as many as were available, to 
suck blood from feverish patients.^* Nurses were appointed from amongst the 
immigrants; in the first separation of the sick from the healthy, many families had 
been divided but some days later the policy was approved of permitting adults and 
older children to return to the ship to nurse relatives and friends provided they 
remained quarantined with the sick. 

From the beginning, Bowler urged that the most serious cases should be landed, 
arguing that conditions on board and the length of time the contagion had existed 
on the ship were incompatible with speedy recovery. His requests were refused by 
the Executive Council, however, on the grounds of insufficient accommodation 
on shore. With no sign of the fever abating in mid-March, by which time Bowler 
was infected with typhus fever, support for landing the sick came from Dr J. Dobie. 
In a letter to the Colonial Secretary, he stated that his experience on warships in 
the Mediterranean had shown that when disease assumed an epidemical virulent 
form, it could not be effectively eradicated until the ship had been cleared of 
people, cargo and stores, and properly cleansed and fumigated. Dobie’s letter was 
referred to a medical board and the decision was taken to clear the ship.” 

The problem of finding a suitable place on shore was solved on 21 March when 
the Executive Council appointed Little Manly Cove as quarantine ground, after 
obtaining W. C. Wentworth s permission as the landowner, and by 30 March all of 
the sick people were housed on shore. Three wooden buildings were erected on 
the newly proclaimed quarantine ground, which extended from the shore of Little 
Manly Cove to the line of high rocks at the rear, where the sentries were posted. 

The Lady Macnachten 


Two of the buildings were allocated for hospital use and the third for the use of the two 
doctors, and Captain Hustwick and his wife3*The buildings were fiirnished with iron 
bedsteads, which had been scrubbed with soap and water, and new bedding. Before 
entering the buildings, people were required to wash and change into new clothing. 

All used clothing and bedding were burned. Ail cargo and other items which 
could be immersed in salt water without damage were sunk on rafts for a specified 
period. Other cargoes such as rod iron, deal planks and kegs of butter, were landed 
for airing. The ship was scrubbed with hot water and soap, washed with a strong 
solution of chloride of lime and then fumigated with charcoal and sulphur. Stoves 
were kept burning in the holds and between-decks for at least a fortnight.^’ 

On 3 March, CathoHc Archbishop J. B. Folding obtained approval to send a 
chaplain to live on the Healthy Ground in order to provide spiritual comfort to 
Catholic immigrants under Dr Inches’ care, a decision which caused Inches to 
protest that he had already sufiicient difficulties without the additional problems of 
rehgious dissension amongst the immigrants.^® When, in turn, the Anglican Bishop 
W. G. Broughton sent a clergyman to hold church services at the Station, Inches 
twice sent the clergyman away because he considered that it was too hot for the 
immigrants to stand in the sun. 

At a meeting of the Executive Council on 13 March, the considerably vexed Bishop 
Broughton complained that Inches had been ‘lacking in due exertions’. Inches was 
duly informed that either a shed or an awning was to be erected near the boundary 
fence at the landing stage, where services could be held. Thereafter, clergymen were 
allowed to hold services at the Station on the understanding that they could not pass 
beyond the boundary fence or approach their congregation nearer than ten yards.^* 

Other problems emerged which required closer scrutiny of the Quarantine Act. It 
was found that there was no legal sanction for the instruction to shoot anyone attempting 
to break out of quarantine, and the sentries were informed that reasonable force only 
was to be used.*^ An incident on 4 March when one of the sentries, George RJiodes, 
was discovered in the quarantined area, wrapped in a blanket and apparendy somewhat 
inebriated, revealed that although there were penalties for breaking out of quarantine, 
none had been provided for breaking into quarantine. The hapless soldier was handed 
back to the military authorities for military rather than civil discipHne.^^ 

On 14 April the quarantine ended for at least 100 of the immigrants. After extensive 
cleansing procedures and the issue of new clothing , they were ferried to Sydney and 
taken to the Immigrants’ Barracks behind Government House to commence the task 
of finding employment. Children who had been orphaned on the voyage or in 
quarandne were taken to the Oiqjhan School. Progressively on the recommendation 
of a medical board, the release fix)m quarantine continued. On 9 May the Executive 
Council approved the release of the remaining immigrants and the ship, her crew and 
cargo, and various cleansing operations began at the vacated Station. 


In Quarantine 

In the aftermath, it emerged that the quarantine had been costly, not only in 
terms of human suffering and grief. An amount of ;,(;4,902 lOs. VAd. had to be 
defrayed from the Colonial Treasury to meet the following expenses^^: 

Pay and Allowances of Medical Officers and 
Superintendents of Quarantine 
Provisions, Fuel and Light 
Clothing and Bedding 

Indemnification for clothing and bedding 
destroyed to prevent infection 
Tents, Tarpaulins, Stores, Furniture and Utensils 
Hire ofVessels, for supplying and visiting the 
Quarantine Station 

Gratuities to Clerks and Nurses 

Gratuities to Military Guard 

Notice boards, Stationery and Other Incidentals 


5 . 








1 132 



1 450 



















Additionally, Governor Bourke received a claim for ^394 9s. lid. from Captain 
Hustwick for various expenses including demurrage both for the Lady MacNaghten 
and the Harbour Pilot’s vessel which had been quarantined for 75 days. After legal 
advice, most of Hustwick’s claims were met.^* In later quarantines, where the 
passengers were government-assisted immigrants and there had been no breach of 
the charter-party agreement made by the government and the ship’s owner, the 
government met the cost of the quarantine. In other cases, the cost of the quarantine 
had to be met by the ship’s owner. 

The Proposal to Establish *a Convenient Lazaret * 

In a despatch to Lord Glenelg on 10 April 1837, Bourke foreshadowed the end of 
an era of temporary expedients during quarantines in the following words: 

As the Embarkation of Emigrants for this Colony is likely to be more 
frequent in future years than heretofore, and as the dread of contagious 
disease is much felt by the Colonists, I think it will be necessary to 
propose to the Legislative Council at its next sitting the appropriation 
of a sum of money for establishing a convenient Lazaret. This measure 
may, in the course of years, prove the most economic arrangement, as 
the expense incurred by temporary expedients resorted to under the 
hurry and apprehension of the impending case, is usually of a large 

The Lady Macnaghten 


The Legislative Council agreed, and the Returns of the Colony, 1837, show that 
8s. 9 'Ad. was allocated for ‘Buildings and Enclosures at North Head of 
Port Jackson for the purpose of Quarantine’. 

Until then, it had seemed to many colonists that the government was more 
concerned about conditions on convict than on immigrant ships, prompting one 
colonist to write ironically to the editor of the Sydney Herald on 8 March 1837: 
‘When vessels of the Lady MacNaghtens class are fitted up for convict ships, the 
usual complement is about 120, but it is necessary that the female convicts should 
be more carefully attended to than a parcel of girls who are about emigrating!’ 
Government reaction to the tragic voyage and quarantine brought hope, however, 
that the conditions on immigrant ships would be improved, and that a permanent 
quarantine station would be established which would provide better 
accommodation for immigrants quarantined at North Head. 

Quarantine Station 1838 

Sources: (a) Rough sketch of the Quarantine Ground, Surveyor S. Perry, 19th May 
1838, AONSW Map No. 4956. (b) Preliminary sketch of the Quarantine Ground, 
Surveyor T.H. Nutt, undated, AONS^^ Map No.4955. (c) Plan showing position of 
old and new buildings Quarantine Station, NSW. J.Barnet, 1 876, report of the Royal 
Commission on the management of the station. V&PLA 1882 




The Quarantine of the Immigrant Ship, John Barry 1837 

In late May 1837, Governor Bourke appointed a Board under the presidency of 
the Colonial Engineer, Major George Barney, ‘to enquire and report on the subject 
of a permanent Quarantine Station’. Before the report was completed, however. 
North Head was occupied by immigrants landed from the John Barry, which arrived 
on 13 July 1837. On the voyage there had been outbreaks of scarlet and typhus 
fever, and 3 adults had died from fever and 23 children from bowel complaints. 
On arrival, 6 adults and 1 1 children were ill with typhus fever and 6 children with 
bowel complaints.^ 

On a wet winter’s day, the John Barry's passengers had their first sight of the 
Quarantine Station, where the Burial Ground above Quarantine Beach was starkly 
visible. Amongst the passengers were 284 government-assisted immigrants (105 
adults and 179 children) who had travelled by steerage class, in an area about 90 
feet long and 27 feet wide and ventilated by ten scuttles, each 9 by 6 inches.^ For 
many who had lived in such a cramped, airless environment for nearly four months. 
North Head may have seemed inviting by contrast.They had yet to endure, however, 
a quarantine which lasted until late September, during which 37 people became 
infected with typhus fever and 13 people died.'* 

Although the board had not yet finalised its report when the ship arrived, a 
number of decisions had already been made about the Station. Experience had 
shown that the quarantine ground was not sufficiently large, and so by proclamation 
on 19 July 1837 the whole of North Head, bounded by the sea and by a line from 
the west side of Spring Cove to Cabbage Tree Beach forming the eastern boundary 
of Cheer’s land, was declared a station for the performance of quarantine.® 

The decision was also taken to dismantle the three wooden buildings erected at 
Little Manly Cove and re-erect them above Quarantine Beach for the use of healthy 
immigrants. The place chosen by Major Barney was on the high ground at the 
head of the ravine which at that stage coursed down to Quarantine Beach. The 
high ground on the promontory on the south side of Quarantine Beach was 
designated as the place where a hospital was to be erected.® 

The gang of convicts working on the foundations of the new Government 
House was sent to Little Manly Cove with rations for two days, blankets and 

A Permanent Quarantine Station & Staff 37 

bedding, to dismantle the buildings and carry the timbers to the Station’s boundary. 
The buildings were re-erected under the supervision of a carpenter sent from 
Sydney, who was also given the task of erecting a hospital with frames and timber 
sent fix)m Sydney.^ Since the three buildings accommodated fewer than 100 people, 
tents were erected above the shoreline until torrential rain forced their relocation 
to a place in front of the buildings on the Healthy Ground. Unhappily the area 
where healthy people were housed overlooked the Burial Ground, which was 
levelled in 1853 for this reason.® 

On 29 July the ship, crew and cabin passengers were released from quarantine, 
but the immigrants were less fortunate: disease suddenly began to spread throughout 
the Station, infecting the carpenter, many of the immigrants, the ship’s surgeon 
and two doctors sent from Sydney. An advisory medical board was appointed to 
supervise the quarantine, and a concerned Governor Bourke visited the Station 
where he gave instructions that a new landing stage be erected ‘at the bight near 
the ravine’ to provide separate access to the hospital.’ 

Quarantine procedures closely followed those adopted during the Lady 
MacNaghten quarantine. However, they were seldom implemented either in this or 
later quarantines without some challenge from quarantined people. During the 
John Barry quarantine, some immigrants found aspects of officialdom particularly 
irksome. Since it appeared that alcohol was being sent from Sydney in packages 
addressed to some immigrants, the Superintendent of Quarantine was instructed 
to open all suspicious packages, empty any containers of spirits, and deliver any 
wine or beer to the doctors who would then decide whether or not it was to be 
given to the person concerned. Incensed, the immigrants sent a memorandum to 
the Governor asking permission to regulate their own affairs, as they had done on 
the ship. Their request was refused, and thereafter the policy was adopted (but 
sometimes circumvented) that alcohol was not to be brought into the Station, 
unless with official permission.*® 

The First Buildings and Organisation 

By 10 October 1837 the quarantine was over and the Colonial Secretary informed 
Barney that, since access to the Station was now permitted, his board should 
complete its report as quickly as possible.** Approval of the report was a foregone 
conclusion and building operations began almost immediately, using convict labour. 
The Returns of the Colony relating to Public Works undertaken in 1837 show that 
by the end of the year /]632 14s. 2d. of a total estimated cost of ;01774 8s. 9 54d. 
had been expended. By 19 May 1838 work was complete. 

The Station’s boundary line was delineated by either twelve or thirteen 
cairn-shaped boundary pillars, each about eight feet high, built with stones bonded 


In Quarantine 

with lime mortar and lime- washed for clearer visibility, one of which still stands at the 
Station. The boundaries were patrolled by day and night by a military guard, for 
whom sentry boxes were erected in 1849.The guard, which was encamped near Store 
Beach, usually consisted of one sergeant (paid 2s. per day) and up to nine privates 
(each paid Is. per day). From about 1860, guard duties were taken over by the Sydney 
Pohce Force, who were billeted in quarters outside the boundary lines.” 

On the Healthy Ground, there were four wooden buildings with shingled roofs 
and glazed windows, each between 20 and 40 feet apart and about 20 feet wide 
and 80 feet long, and each housing about 25 people. The unlined buildings were 
described as mere wooden shells by immigrants, who described them as too open 
and lacking comfort and privacy. Their minimal structure apparently reflected an 
ofBcial view that the standard of accommodation at the Station should be similar 
to that occupied by immigrants on the quarantined ship, namely steerage class. 

On the Healthy Ground, single men were housed in one end building, single 
women in the other end building under the supervision of a matron, and married 
people and their families in the two middle buildings. Sometimes a building was 
set aside for convalescents, who were normally segregated in tents on the Sick 
Ground until judged firee from infection. Open fireplaces were provided for cooking, 
until 1858, when a substantial cookhouse was erected.” 

Doctors were accommodated in a two-roomed house erected both on the 
Healthy and the Sick Grounds. Their duties included arranging for the distribution 
of rations, requisitioning clothing and other supplies, arbitrating in disputes and 
preparing daily reports for the Colonial Secretary on the health of the people in 
their care. Initially they were paid 5s. per day as table money’ but from 9 November 
1838 a scale adopted for the remuneration of medical officers entitled them to 20s. 
per day, with double rations. Additionally they could claim up to ;(jl0 to replace 
clothing destroyed during the cleansing process.” 

The hospital was partitioned into a male and female ward. Conditions in the 
unlined, overcrowded hospital, where people often lay on bedding placed on the 
floor, were described in the Sydney Gazette on 30 October 1838 as ‘miserable in 
the extreme’. Male and female nurses, who were paid Is. 6d. per day, were recruited 
firom amongst the immigrants, sometimes, as happened in the case of a nurse during 
the Minerva’s quarantine, to die while on duty.” 

Cleansing procedures which people were required to undertake to rid themselves 
of infection were usually specified by a medical board, and varied according to the 
virulence of the disease. Luggage, which was customarily stored under tarpaulins 
on shore, had to be aired, and sometimes fumigated over burning charcoal and 
sulphur or chloride of lime.” In order to minimise the heavy cost for shipping of 
‘lay-days’ in quarantine, vessels were released as quickly as possible after cleansing, 
the extent of which also varied according to the virulence of the disease, but 

A Permanent Quarantine Station & Staff 

invariably involved scrubbing the decks with a liberal use of chloride of lime and 
dismantling berths which were sometimes placed on a raft and sunk in Spring 
Cove for some days.'® 

Convicts were sent to the Station to cut wood, carry water and generally act as 
labourers. Their duties included helping the Superintendent of Quarantine with 
the fumigation of mail, for which a fumigating machine was purchased in early 
1838.*’ In late 1838, three weatherboard huts were erected above Store Beach, to 
house the Superintendent and his convict boatmen.^® 

Communication between ship and shore was usually made by signals. These 
could be difiicult to sight, but a request from the Superintendent in 1838 for a 
flagstaff was rejected by Governor Gipps, who considered that but a little ingenuity 
or contrivance' was required to make all the necessary signals without incurring 
additional expense.^' The flagstaff which still stands on Cannae Point was probably 
erected in 1853-4. 

A vessel was hired to provide a daily delivery service from Sydney, until 1840 
when the schooner Ariel was allocated to the Station. Provisions were sent from 
Sydney, but fresh milk was purchased at Sd. per quart from John Whyte, who had 
a dairy herd at nearby Manly.“ 

Medical Treatment, 1841: 

Events surrounding the quarantine of the bounty ship New York Packet, which 
arrived from Glasgow on 23 October 1841 with 244 immigrants on board, 
demonstrated the vulnerability of the immigrants to infectious diseases before the 
causes of diseases and the methods of transmission were discovered. Fifteen days 
from departure, a two-year-old child developed a mild case of smallpox. Although 
the ship’s surgeon. Dr J.Aitken, a Hcentiate of the College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, 
knew that smallpox was a contagious disease, he considered that the disease was 
not ‘as likely to be caught from one slightly, as from one seriously affected’ and so, 
in all but three cases, allowed his patients to remain in their berths amongst the 
other immigrants. As a result fifteen people became infected with smallpox, of 
whom three died.^^ 

When the vessel arrived in Port Jackson, Aitken reported that although smallpox 
had been prevalent early in the voyage, the passengers were totally free from disease 
with the exception of a few cases of influenza. As a precaution, the Port’s Health 
Officer, Dr A. Savage, quarantined the ship for cleansing. 

Within three days, the reports of sickness on the Healthy Ground were so 
troubling that Naval Surgeon T.R. Dunn was sent from Sydney to investigate. He 
found the immigrants ‘in a filthy and disgraceful state ofdiscipUne’,and he observed 
with alarm that many people who were suffering from a disease of a ‘well marked 


In Quarantine 

febrile character’ were mixing freely with healthy people. The disease, which he 
diagnosed as typhus fever, spread rapidly through the Station infecting more than 
80 people and killing eight adults and one child. 

Typhus fever is spread by lice, and both in this and some other quarantines it 
seemed puzzling that there should have been an outbreak of typhus fever on 
arrival at the Station, but not during the long voyage. In the opinion of a board of 
enquiry, the disease was present but undiagnosed during the voyage of the New 
York Packet. In a letter to Governor Gipps on 14 February 1842, Dr Aitken 
maintained that the Station’s hospital was the source of infection since it had not 
been cleansed following the removal of the Eleanors typhus fever cases some days 
earlier.” However, his claim was rejected. His plea for payment for his services 
during the voyage was also rejected, throwing him into a state of penury. 

One of the most potent weapons in the fight to improve conditions on the 
immigrant ships was the withholding of payment to ship masters who breached 
charter-party agreements, and to surgeon-superintendents whose performance was 
considered to be unsatisfactory. The board’s report indicated that it was making an 
example of Aitken, whose moral conduct during the voyage was unimpeached but 
whose performance was judged to be inadequate, in order to draw attention to ‘a 
most culpable want of care in the selection ofsurgeons-superintendent'on a number 
of immigrant ships. 

In early November, Dr Ellis Bateman was sent from Sydney to take charge of 
the Station’s hospital and Dr Aitken was relegated to the position of his assistant. 
Bateman was dismayed to find that the hospital offered little protection from the 
weather, and reported that 'the wind had full ingress thru several spaces so as to 
allow in severe or partial draughts of air on many of our sick’. To overcome this, he 
had brushwood and a ridge of earth placed around the building. 

Bateman also informed the Health Officer that the hospital was in ‘a cruelly 
crowded state - all the bedsteads in close apposition to each other and the only 
passage down the centre of the ward interrupted by beds placed on the ground in 
some of which were 3 or 4 children as well as adults promiscuously mixed’.” 
Reporting on 5 November 1841 that he was having some difficulty getting his six 
nurses and two servants to attend his patients, but that an immigrant who had 
acted as Aitken’s assistant on the voyage was providing valuable help in administering 
medicines, thus compensating for the weakness of the nursing staff, he added: 

My treatment has consisted chiefly of Calomel and Jalop purges followed 
up with saline aperients or castor oil, giving also a saline febrifuge 
every four hours - sometimes with the addition of Tartar Emetic in 
Diaphoretic doses. I have also obtained good results from the 
administration of emetics followed up with purgatives. Indeed the latter 
class of medicines seemed to be of the greatest use. In some cases of 

A Permanent Quarantine Station & Staff 

longer standing, small doses of calomel with frequent doses of brandy 
and a fricture of mustard application has proved most serviceable. Of 
course I mean such cases as where there was either total collapse or a 
tendency to it. I have not had recourse to the Lancet in more than four 
cases... [illegible]. In those cases where the bowels are freely opened, 
with a moist tongue, I have invariably given a htde Porter daily with great 
advantage. The lemons and oranges you had the goodness to send are proved 
very grateful and are truly welcome to the parched hps of our poor patients 
and I would be very anxious to receive a daily supply of these.^^ 

Other letters and requisitions written during quarantines in this period indicate 
that doctors sought to reduce fevers by bleeding their patients (either by cupping 
or applying leeches) and that enemas, mustard packs and blistering ointment were 
ffequendy used in an attempt to alleviate the effect of symptoms of diseases. Delirious 
patients were sometimes restrained with a device known as madman s muffs , 
which was obtained from the Lunacy Asylum in 1838.^® 

A ‘Heartlessly Callous’ Release from Quarantine 

At the end of each quarantine, government-assisted immigrants were ferried to 
Sydney and taken to the Immigrants’ Barracks where they remained at government 
expense for a short period while they found employment. Immigrants who had 
arrived under the Bounty Regulations, however, were ferried to Sydney and left 
on the wharf to make their own arrangements for accommodation and employment. 
When the quarantine of the bounty ship Minerva ended in March 1838, a plea to 
allow convalescents to live in the barracks until they found accommodation was 
refused, although they were permitted to remain some extra days at the Station 
under medical care before being ferried to Sydney. 

Public reaction roundly condemned the refusal as heartlessly callous, particularly 
when it was reported that four young children, aged from four to ten years, had 
been 'sent up to Sydney in the government boats, without anyone to look after 
them’. Their father, David Dickson, 34, a farmer from Belfast who was to have 
been appointed overseer of the late DrW. Redfern’s property, had died from typhus 
fever on 6 February, and their one-year-old brother, David, had died on the 
following day. When the boys were sent alone to Sydney, their mother was seriously 
ill in the Station’s hospital. 

Mercifully, a Sydney auctioneer, Mr Polack, provided the homeless bounty 
immigrants with temporary accommodation in his auction room in Lower George 
Street. In a barbed thrust at Governor Gipps, the Sydney Gazette condemned the 
government’s fear of creating a precedent by taking responsibility for bounty 
immigrants as a preposterous excuse, stating provocatively that the former Governor, 


In Quarantine 

Sir Richard Bourke, ‘had no such paltry fear ‘4’ 

It was becoming increasingly apparent to the Colonial Secretary, at least, that 
the establishment of a permanent quarantine station had not solved the problems 
of administering quarantine regulations, and that the use of temporary staff during 
each quarantine was not satisfactory in view of the complexities of immigration 
and quarantine procedures. His problem was to convince Governor Gipps of the 
need to appoint permanent staff. 

The Appointment of the First Health Officer of Port Jackson 

The erection of buildings at the Station proved to be timely, since five of 37 
immigrant ships which arrived in 1838 were quarantined. In a letter to Sir Richard 
Bourke, the Colonial Secretary E. Deas Thomson (who was Bourke ’s son-in-law) 
expressed his concern that the outbreaks of disease on these ships would injure the 
cause of immigration, adding, ‘the Quarantine Station has been scarcely unoccupied 
for a month at a time... and the well-filled Burial Ground testifies in a melancholy 
way to the fatal consequences that have ensued’.^® 

Disease was rife on the immigrant ships. In 1838, 6 102 government- assisted 
immigrants (not including bounty immigrants) sailed for New South Wales, and 
58 of 3 601 adults and 316 of 2 501 children died on the voyage, most from 
infectious diseases.^* 

A further 43 adults and 29 children died at the Station, where temporary staff were 
appointed for each quarantine. Adding to the administrative problems, the quarantines 
of the William Rodger, Palmyra and Maitland overlapped, and it became necessary once 
again to proclaim Little Manly Cove as a quarantine station for people landed from the 
Maitland. Seventy tents were erected on the northern side of the beach for healthy 
people, and a ‘portable house' sent from Sydney was erected on the point between 
Little Manly Cove and Collins Beach as a hospital.^^ This building was used again 
during quarantines of the Garrow in 1839 and the Ayrshire in 1841. 

Throughout 1838, there was considerable public criticism of the government’s 
administration of quarantine. This was particularly evident during the quarantine 
of the Minerva, when letters were published in the local newspapers condemning 
the lack of rules at the Station and breaches of quarantine by one of the doctors. 
There was concern, also, about the effectiveness of the port’s quarantine regulations. 
On arrival in the harbour, most of the vessels’ masters reported sickness and deaths 
during the voyage from causes such as typhus fever, scarlet fever, measles, whooping 
cough, dysentery and consumption, but claimed on arrival that all on board were 
free of disease. 

The need for a health officer to check vessels on arrival was recognised by Dr 
John Dobie, 44, a half-pay naval surgeon then in charge of the Healthy Ground 

A Permanent Quarantine Station &c Staff 43 

for the quarantine of the Amelia Thompson. In a letter to the Colonial Secretary on 
3 August 1838, he drew attention to the danger of disease being introduced into 
the colony by the immigrant ships and by vessels arriving daily from the Indian 
archipelago. On the assumption that Governor Gipps might be contemplating the 
appointment of a health officer of Port Jackson for the medical inspection of ships 
on arrival ‘similar to what ships arriving in the harbours of Europe and all other 
Colonies are subject’, he submitted his quahfications for the appointment. These 
included 24 years naval service, and experience both as surgeon-superintendent 
on convict and immigrant ships and as the surgeon in medical charge of the naval 
department at Trincomalee in 1820.^‘‘ 

Although the Colonial Secretary was in favour of Dobie’s appointment. Governor 
Gipps was not. He wrote firmly across Dobie’s letter that he wished to have more 
experience of the quarantine system before making a decision and added, blightingly, 
that Dobie should be told ‘not to let any expectation of such an appointment 
influence other plans he might have for fixing himself in the Colony’.^® Within 
three months, the Governor’s hand was forced by events surrounding the quarantine 
of the William Rodger, which arrived with the Palmyra on 26 September 1838. 

On arrival, the master of the William Rodger reported eight cases of inflammatory 
fever and the deaths of two people during the past month. Since the three remaining 
cases did not exhibit ‘any peculiar malignancy’, it was decided to quarantine the 
ship for a few days only, without landing the immigrants at the Station. On the 
Palmyra, scarlet fever had infected 40 children of whom 26 had died, but the 
disease was reported to have disappeared. It was decided to also quarantine the ship 
for a few days as a precaution.^* 

On 6 October both ships were released from quarantine and permitted to proceed 
to Sydney Cove. But before embarkation got underway, sixteen people on the 
William Rodger showed symptoms of typhus fever. The vessel was towed by a 
steamer back to Spring Cove where, within days, 144 people became infected 
with typhus fever of whom 45 died, including the ship’s master. Captain John I. 
Hall.^^ In the Sydney Gazette, the premature release of the William Rodger was 
condemned as an act of gross negligence. At the same time, the editor claimed that 
there were well-grounded fears that typhus fever had been introduced into Sydney 
and had already spread ‘to the poorer inhabitants of our crowded alleys and streets. 
That cases of Typhus have occurred in Sydney within the last week or two we 
know and further one of those cases was distinctly traceable to infection 
communicated from one of the fever ships’.^* 

Whatever the reluctance of the Governor, the Colonial Secretary was convinced 
that the appointment of a medically qualified health officer for the port could wait 
no longer. At a meeting of the Executive Council on 8 October, he stated that he 
considered it his duty to bring to the Governor’s attention, again, the need to 


In Quarantine 

appoint a health officer to board every vessel entering the port before it was 
admitted to pratique since ‘the great increase in shipping in Port Jackson and the 
rapidly growing population rendered it incumbent on the Government to take 
every precaution to prevent the introduction of disease which, once admitted, 
would be scarcely possible to eradicate’. 

With demonstrable reluctance Gipps agreed, and Dr Dobie was appointed as 
Health Officer of Port Jackson on 11 December 1838 at a salary of ^300 per 
annum, with the right to private practice.'*® In the Public Service lists, the position 
was shown within the newly established Immigration Department as part of the 
Colonial Secretary’s portfolio. 

Dobie suffered some backlash from Gipps’ displeasure over the way his hand 
had been forced. At the time of his appointment, he was in charge of the Healthy 
Ground during the quarantine of the William Rodger. When he submitted a claim 
to replace his shoes and boots which had been burned as part of the cleansing 
procedures, Gipps’ refusal was sour. Dobie was informed that his claim indicated a 
great want of consideration for the expenditure of public money and, in any case, 
he had not been in close attendance of the sick.^* 

Within less than a year, perhaps in a spirit of disenchantment w’ith bureaucracy, 
Dobie resigned to become a sheep farmer in a remote district of the colony. He 
had demonstrated, however, the worth of the appointment and on 5 November 
1839 Dr Arthur Savage, a naval surgeon who had served both on convict and 
immigrant ships, was appointed by Gipps as Dobie’s replacement.^^ The Health 
Officer’s duties were outlined by the Colonial Secretary on 21 January 1839, by 
which time orders had been given that in future no vessels other than those from 
Van Diemen’s Land or coastal vessels were to proceed further than Neutral Bay 
until visited by the Health Officer. If the presence of an infectious disease was 
suspected, all communication with the vessel was forbidden until it was decided in 
consultation with the Colonial Secretary whether or not to impose quarantine. 
During each quarantine, the Health Officer was required to make frequent visits 
to the Station ‘for the purpose of consulting with the surgeons in charge on the 
measures best calculated to promote the comfort and re-establish the health of the 
persons detained’. His duties included countersigning all requisitions for medicines 
and medical comforts, checking the quality and regularity of supply of provisions, 
and ensuring that there were no breaches of quarantine. He was also required to 
attend to people at the Immigrants’ Barracks when required.'*^ 

Significantly, the terms of appointment did not make it clear whether or not 
the Health Officer was ultimately responsible for the proper management of the 
Station. The failure at the beginning to clarify the relationships and responsibilities 
of the Health Officer, the Agent for Immigration and the Superintendent of 
Quarantine contributed to many later problems at the Station. 

A Permanent Quarantine Station & Staff 

A Permanent, Resident Superintendent of Quarantine 

Under the terms of the 1832 Quarantine Act, the Superintendent of Quarantine 
was named as the officer to whom the master of a quarantined vessel was required 
to surrender his bill of health, manifest, log book and journal, and also as the 
officer who certified that quarantine had been satisfactorily performed. The title 
was somewhat misleading since he had no control over quarantined people, who 
were supervised by the doctors appointed to the Healthy and Sick Grounds. 
Primarily the superintendent was the overseer of stores and the Station s caretaker, 
although he had a number of other duties such as patrolling the shoreline to prevent 
any breach of quarantine by sea, fumigating mail and conveying messages between 
the Health Officer and the doctors and military guard at the Station. 

The decision to appoint a permanent, resident superintendent followed an 
incident reported in the Sydney Herald on 21 November 1838, when the wife of 
one of the military guards breached quarantine by accepting an unfumigated letter 
and a ten-shilling note from a quarantined immigrant for delivery to a Sydney 
resident. The temporary superintendent, who had little prior experience of 
quarantines, was reprimanded, and on 1 January 1839 John Sandon was appointed 
to a permanent position as resident Superintendent of Stores (subsequently renamed 
Overseer of Stores) at a salary of ^109 10s. per annum. 

Sandon held office until 15 November 1841, when he committed suicide during 
the quarantines of the New York Packet and the Ayrshire. Even at the best of times, 
life at the Station would have been difficult for resident staff. During quarantines, 
they had to contend with hostility from some people who resented their detention, 
and criticism from some medical staff who became impatient with deficiencies in 
stores and supplies. During non-quarantine periods, local people tended to shun 
the Station s staff, fearing they may be carrying infection. 

In his reports, Sandon reveals that he was increasingly anxious about the poor 
state of the station, but his requests for repairs were either ignored or refused at a 
time when Treasury funds were low. On 20 September 1841 he asked that five 
convicts assigned from Hyde Park Barracks be granted 'some small extra indulgence’ 
for their work during the quarantine when they had ‘rowed all day and frequently 
during the night’. His request was bluntly refused without explanation.^* Surviving 
correspondence gives the impression of a conscientious employee, unable to gain 
recognition of his difficult circumstances. 

On 15 November 1841, a doctor in charge of immigrants on the Healthy 
Ground reported to the Health Officer in a barely decipherable letter: ‘1 am sorry 
to say I have been obliged to break our quarantine regulations. Poor Mr Sandon 
has shot himself through the head. Sergeant Gunter called our men having 
[illegible]... and I found him dead on my arrival. Mrs. Sandon is so poorly that I 


In Quarantine 

found it necessary to visit her and I shall continue to do so until I hear from you. 
Sergeant Gunter has thought it necessary to place both military [illegible] under 
quarantine regulations owing to the intercourse with me’. A brief entry in the 
Register of Coroners’ Inquests from 1834-94 records that on 15 November 1841 
John Sandon ‘took his life while intoxicated’.^* 

On 16 November 1841 John Carroll was appointed as Sandon’s replacement, 
holding office until 1881, when he was suspended and later replaced during the 
Royal Commission into the management of the Quarantine Station. Carroll’s salary 
at the time of appointment was ;£109 10^. per annum, later increased to ;,(;i50 per 
annum, thereafter remaining unchanged for more than 30 years. Additionally he 
was paid an allowance of 25. 6d. per day for issuing rations during each quarantine 
and was provided with free accommodation. Although he was addressed in official 
correspondence as Superintendent of Quarantine, official records showed his title 
as Overseer of Stores until 1869 when Superintendent of Quarantine also appeared 
against his name.'*^ 

Carroll, who was born in Ireland in 1817, married a seventeen-year-old Irish 
girl in 1847 and reared twelve children at the Station. Until 1854 he lived in a hut 
above Store Beach but, following approval in February 1 854, a house was built for 
him at a cost ‘not exceeding ^(^900’ close to the boundary lines of the Healthy 
Ground.'** There the Carroll family lived for the next 27 years, maintaining a fowl 
yard and a vegetable garden and supplementing their food supply with fish caught 
ofFNorth Head, a popular fishing ground for Manly residents. Excursions to Manly 
were made in the Station’s horse-drawn waggon, but Carroll’s visits to Sydney 
involved a special arrangement with the skipper of the Manly ferry, described by a 
Manly resident of the time in the following words: 1 used to see the whaleboat 
pull out from the Quarantine Station, signal the ferry which then hove to whilst a 
line was heaved overboard and secured, and was towed by the ferry to just off the 
Man o’ War steps, where it was cast off and later on was towed back after a day’s 
business in town’.*’ 

As Overseer of Stores, Carroll was responsible to the Colonial Storekeeper. In 
his many other duties, however, the lines of responsibility were less clear. Requests 
for repairs to buildings were sent by Carroll to the Agent for Immigration who 
considered the Station to be part of the immigration establishment, but during a 
quarantine, Carroll received instructions from the Health Officer. The remoteness 
of the Station meant that he was largely left to his own devices with little supervision 
of his work. As a result, his methods and attitudes remained throughout his 40 
years as Superintendent of Quarantine largely as they had been in the early years of 
his appointment, when impoverished, government-assisted immigrants arrived by 
steerage class and minimal standards of care and comfort operated at the Station. 




Much of the Station’s history in the nineteenth century was influenced both by 
the ebbs and flows of the tides of immigration to the shores of Port Jackson and by 
the incidence of infectious diseases on the immigrant ships. A decision to encourage 
immigration was normally followed by a review of the condition of the Station as 
part of the arrangements for the reception of immigrants. The quarantine of a ship 
with hundreds of immigrants on board also focused government attention on the 
Station, so that improvements in conditions there generally followed either a renewal 
of assisted immigration or some large-scale quarantine. Conversely, when health 
on the immigrant ships improved and there was little use of the Station, government 
interest in its condition declined. 

Improvements in Health on the Immigrant Ships 

Throughout 1837 and 1838, the extent of sickness and deaths on the immigrant 
ships was the subject of ‘unsparing investigation’ by the government.* Evidence 
obtained from various ship surgeons revealed the need to improve accommodation, 
diet, sanitary arrangements and discipline. The need to change departure dates to 
avoid winter storms was also revealed in evidence about the voyage of the Scottish 
immigrant ship Duncan, which had sailed from Greenock in January 1838 with 
143 children on board. During the first six weeks of the voyage the hatches had to 
be battened down almost continually because of high seas, hail, rain and snow. In 
the fearful conditions between decks, nineteen children had died painfully as 
seasickness took its toll and the milk of nursing mothers dried up.^ 

On board the 36 immigrant ships which arrived in 1838 there were many 
deaths, particularly amongst young children. On board the iMyton, 70 children 
died, most from measles. Disturbingly, there was much more sickness on board 
government-chartered ships than on privately chartered bounty ships and so, on 5 
December 1838, Governor Gipps appointed a committee under the chairmanship 
of J. D. Pinnock, Agent for Immigration, to investigate and report on the reasons.* 
The committee’s report was despatched to the British Colonial Office in early 
1839, where the irritation it aroused amongst British Emigration officials probably 
drew more attention to the need for improvements in the British emigration 
system than would normally have been the case. 


In Quai^antine 

The committee’s terms of reference had included the question whether, in the 
selection of emigrants, sufficient attention had been paid to their state of health 
and to their ability to bear a sudden change of diet. Its answer implied that British 
emigration officials had sometimes yielded to local pressure to select emigrants 
from economically distressed areas, whose health had already been undermined 
before embarkation by ‘a comparative state of poverty, both in diet and clothing", 
and who were unlikely to prove serviceable to the colony on arrival. 

The committee was also of the opinion that insufficient attention had been paid 
to dietary requirements on the voyage, particularly to the victualling of children, 
and that there was a need to revise the Passengers’ Act which calculated three 
children under seven as equal to one adult in allotting space and rations. It 
commented on ‘the excessive number’ of children on the government ships, and 
on the need for ships’ surgeon-superintendents to be given more authority to 
enforce regulations for the preservation of good order and health.^ However 
diplomatically worded, the committee’s message was that the staff of the British 
Agent-General for Emigration were not doing a good enough job. 

In April 1837, the British government had appointed T. F. Elliot as Agent-General 
for Emigration to control the selection and shipment of emigrants from Great 
Britain to the colonies, an office which was merged in January 1 840 into the 
duties of the Land and Emigration Commissioners. Elliot was an able and humane 
administrator who had embarked vigorously on the task of overhauling the 
emigration system.* He was obviously affronted by Pinnock’s report, although 
whether by what he regarded as its inaccuracies, or by Pinnock’s temerity in 
criticising the work of a senior emigration official, is not so clear.* 

Before receiving the report, Elliot had already taken a number of steps to improve 
the selection and shipment of emigrants to the colony and more were taken. These 
included interviews and medical inspections of prospective emigrants, vaccination 
against smallpox, the requirement that all adults sign an undertaking to obey the 
surgeon-superintendents’ rules, the definition of the powers and responsibilities of 
the surgeon-superintendents, improved hospital accommodation and improvements 
in diet on the voyage. Amendments were also made to the Passengers’ Act to 
prevent overcrowding and provide better facilities.^ 

With some justifiable pride, Elliot was able to claim in 1840 that ‘in 1837 and 
the first part of 1838, a ship might be counted prosperous which did not lose as 
many as ten passengers. On the other hand, out of 12 ships in all that have been 
heard of since the New Regulations, seven have not lost one passenger and four 
have lost only two ... the Colony will scarcely have reason to complain of the part 
this Office has taken in the system on board the ships.’® 

By 1840, also, the newly appointed Colonial Land and Emigration 
Commissioners, of whom Elliot was one member, were able to report that on the 

Tables with plate racks 

and battens to hold casks 
for water rations 

24 bunks for married people and their children. 
Bunks were separated by planks, to which 
pegs were attached to hang clothing. 

Water Closet 

Single females' apartment 
(24 bunks, each 6ft x 3ft 
and shared by two) 

Female Hospital 
(6 Bunks) 

Single males' apartment 
(46 bunks, each 6ft x 2ft) 

Bulkhead separating 



Male hospital 

Married people's apartment 
(48 bunks, each 6ft x 3ft, shared 
by husband and wife; lower bunk 
occupied by up to four children) 

Seats fixed to the outer edge 
of each lower bunk. 

Water Closet 

Plan of an immigrant ship between decks, 1844 (Illustrated London Slews, 13 April, 1844). The St. 
Vincent, 628 tons, was one of several ships chartered in 1 844 to carry immigrants to Sydney and Melbourne. 
Between decks, where some 228 immigrants were accommodated, was 124 feet in length, the breadth at the 
main hatchway 25 feet 3 inches, and the height 6 feet 4 inches. From the stern of the ship, ‘right away to the 
stern on the larboard side and back again to the stern on the starboard side’ was entirely occupied by a double 
tier of bunks, with three water closets for the use of women and children (men were required to use closets 
on the top deck). Two areas were set aside as hospitals for men and women; in the women’s hospital, one 
bunk was set aside for accouchements; both areas were provided with water closets. 

Emigrants from western England embarked from emigration depots at Deptford and Plymouth. The 
ship then sailed to Cork in Ireland to embark Irish emigrants, and set sail for Sydney on 16 April 1844, 
arriving in Port Jackson on 31 July 1844. There were five infant deaths and four births on the voyage. 

Interior view of between-decks in steerage class on an immigrant ship in 1844. 

View of the area allocated to married people and their children, showing the two-tiered bunks to the 
left and right and the central table for meals. A knife and fork, two spoons, a metal plate and a drinking 
mug, a mattress, bolster, blanket, coverlid and a small box, 15 inches square, to hold clothes, was supplied to 
each immigrant. 

(Illustrated London News, 13 April 1844) 

Orders and Instructions for the Quarantine Guard, Sydney 

4th March 1839 

1. No soldier is to leave his Encampment during the Night; or his Post or 
Lookout during the day except on Necessary Occasions without the permission 
of the Sergeant and upon no account whatsoever is either Non-Com. Officers 
or Soldiers to be permitted to go in the direction of the Quarantine Qround 
beyond the prescribed line. 

2. The Quard is to take the Water they require at a place marked out in the 
rear of the Encampment and upon no account to go to any other water near 
the Quarantine Qround. 

3. The Orders to the men on the lookout are to be as follows- They are to allow 
no person within Quarantine to pass out of it, the lines of which are marked, 
and if any person should attempt it, he will order Such Persons to stop and 
call the Sergeant who will communicate with the Superintendent of Quarantine. 

4. The man on the Lookout will cause any Person trying to break thru Quarantine 
to be brought to the Surgeon Superintendent of the Healthy Party or Lazaretto 
according as he may have been attached and if such Person was coming from 
without the Quarantine Qround and not belonging to it he will take him 
prisoner reporting the circumstances to the Sergeant. 

5. The Non-Com. Officer will attend to any application he may receive from 
the Surgeon Superintendent or the Superintendent of Quarantine for Military 
aid required for the Strict Preservation of Quarantine but without entering 
himself or permitting any of the men to enter the Quarantine Qround. 

6. The Men will be stationed on the most commanding heights and keep a 
Vigilant lookout and prevent as far as lays in their powers the infringement of 
Quarantine. The Sergeant is responsible that no Dogs, Qoats or other animals 
liable to stray into the Quarantine ground are in possession of the Party. 

7. The Sergeant will report to this Officer immediately any irregularities amongst 
the Privates under his Control, any species of which will be severely punished. 

8. Mr. Sandon is the Superintendent of Quarantine alluded to in these Orders 
and Instructions. 

Signed W. Hunter, Capn. 

Major of Brigade. 

(Source: Col. Sec. Letters Rec'd AONSW 4/2551). 

The last remaining of about thirteen boundary 
pillars which were erected by convict labour in 
1837 to mark the boundary line beyond which 
quarantined people were not permitted to pass. 
The boundary line was patrolled by a military 
guard. Also pictured is Mr Roy Walker, Foreman 
Assistant in charge of the Station at the time of its 
closure in 1 984. 

A gathering of surviving immigrants who arrived on the Constitution in 1 855 and their descendants at a 
reunion held at the Station in 1905. Town & Country Journal 31 May 1905. 

Rock carving made during a 38-day quarantine when five deaths occured from measles. 


Views of the Quarantine Station which appeared in the Illustrated Sydney News on 3 February 1877 

1. Quarters for Healthy People. 2. Port Jackson from Hospital. 3. Mouth of Harbour from Flagstaff. 

4. Spring Cove. 5. Hospital. 6. Interior of the Hospital. 7&8. Hospital Cook-house - interior and 
exterior. 9. General View of Hospital Ground. 

‘Quarantine Life in Sydney’ ( Illustrated Sydney News, 30 September 1881). The sketches, based on evidence 
given during the Royal Commission into the management of the Station, show: 

l:Two grave-diggers sitting on Edward Rout’s coffin, being towed behind the Pinafore which was transporting 
quarantined people to the Station; 2: Dr. M.J. dune; 3: Constable Cook refusing to board the hospital ship 
Faraway; 4: Coffins left in the view of quarantined people; 5: Constable Cook; 6:John Hughes swimming to 
shore to see his dying child; 7: the painful effects of vaccination 8; Constable Cook deploring the lack of 
cooking utensils; 9: Drs Clune and Caffyn chopping firewood to cook their meals. 

View of the Quarantine Station, 1880 ( Government Printer’s Collection No. SHI 535) 

Below: Plan of the Quarantine Station, 1884, showing the Faraway, moored off Quarantine Beach. 
(Based on plan appended to the Report of the Australasian Sanitary Conference, 1884, 

V&PLA 1884). 

Otd Slont Pi«r 

i Quartan 


L Quartan 



Hot Air Room / 
Staam Laundry 
Dttpanaing Ston 
Dtainlacting Fumaoa 



Quartan . 







BOO 000 sal 

Floating Qurantine Hospital 
30 beds 

0 ^KAchan 



PLAN or 

Quarantine Station 



Fence (Approx) 

Views of the Station at the time of the plague epidemic, 1900 (Town and Country Journal, 3 February, 1900) 
Foreground; wharf, coalshed, luggage room, laundry and disinfecting room, store, fumigating room and 
office. Upper left: hospital, doctors’ and nurses’ quarters. 

Interior of the Hospital (above) Laundry (below) 

Archbishop Kelly demanding 
admission to the Station in 1918, 
following refusal of nurse Annie 
Egan’s dying request for the visit 
of a priest. 

(Tou/n and Country Journal, 11 
December 1918). 

Below: Annie Egan 

(Catholic Press, December 1918) 

The Argyllshire troops having travelled by steamer from North Head, are seen here leaving Fort Macquarie 
for the Cricket Ground where they were quarantined for a further four days. 

From the Town & Country Journal, 19 February 1919 

Immigration & Quarantine 


last five immigrant ships only 25 out of 497 children had died on the voyage and 
that statistics for the previous nine months revealed that 1 adult in 95.81 and 1 
child in 17.34 had died on government ships, comparing favourably with deaths 
on the bounty ships where 1 adult in 83.36 and 1 child in 9.79 had died.’ 

Fewer Immigrants and Quarantines 

The result of the improvement of health on the immigrant ships was apparent in 
the relatively few quarantines in the following years. In 1839, only three of 43 
immigrant ships were quarantined; in 1840, one of 40 ships; in 1841, four of 57 
ships. For many months the Station remained unused. 

The task of the Health Officer of Port Jackson was no less busy, however, as vessels 
thronged into an increasingly busy port and had to be checked for a health clearance 
before being granted pratique. Following Dr Dobies resignation in November 
1839, Dr Arthur Savage had been appointed Health Officer, an office which he 
held until his death in 1852. As a naval surgeon who had been in medical charge of 
convict and immigrant ships. Dr Savage’s training and experience had been very 
similar to Dobie’s and his instructions for the performance of quarantines closely 
followed those of his predecessor.'® 

Within weeks of Dr Savage’s appointment, he quarantined the Irish immigrant 
ship North Briton, on whose voyage 15 adults and 5 children had died, most firom 
typhus fever. During the quarantine a further six adults and four children died at 
the Station, and 27 orphans were sent to the Orphan School .“ Administrative 
costs for the Station in 1840, shown below, provide some impression both of the 
components of a quarantine in this period. 

£ s. d. 

North Briton (chartered by Government) 




Champion (Bounty ship) 




Particulars of which were as follows: 

For provisions, wine & fruit 




Pay & Allowances to Surgeons 




Allowances to Superintendents of Quarantine 




& of Provisions 

Allowances to Nurses & Hospital Attendants 




Allowances to Military Guards 




Gunpowder & vinegar for fumigating North Briton 




Oil & cotton wick 





10 11 


In Quarantine 

Miscellaneous Expenses: 

£ s. d. 

27 0 0 

6 19 6 

30 9 8 

54 19 9'/2 

56 8 5 

6 12 11 

182 10 3'/2 

Costs such as these were a further reminder to the colonial government of the 
expense of maintaining an assisted immigration program in a time of economic 
recession. For some years the colony had been suffering from a severe drought and 
from increasing unemployment, and by 1841 the sale of public land revenue which 
funded the assisted immigration program was perilously low. On 2 November 
1841, Governor Gipps advised the British Secretary for the Colonies, Lord Russell, 
of a substantial deficit in meeting the costs of immigration and asked him to prevent 
‘too extensive an emigration from England to this Colony during 1842’. Russell 
agreed, although not without recriminations.*^ 

Between 1842 and 1848, assisted immigration was virtually at a standstill and 
except for the brief quarantine of the Neptune for cleansing in 1841, the Station 
was not used. For the residents of Sydney, there was no longer the excitement of 
an immigrant ship sailing up the harbour, bringing memories of ‘home’. Outbreaks 
of disease in the insanitary town could only be blamed on bad drains and polluted 
water, while at the Station winds loosened roof shingles, hail broke the glazed 
windows and the sun and salt spray eroded the paintwork. 

By 1847 the economy had improved and Governor Gipps successfully petitioned 
the British government for the reintroduction of assisted immigration.*^ From late 
1847 immigrant ships again sailed from British and Irish ports bound for Australia, 
where the need for quarantine regulations and stations in other Australian ports 
became increasingly apparent. 

On 14 December 1841 the Quarantine Act had been amended to give the 
Health Officers both of Sydney’s Port Jackson and of Melbourne’s Port Phillip, 
where a quarantine station had been established in 1840, power to place vessels in 
quarantine. This power was extended by a further amendment on 9 October 1849 

Cost of a four-oared whale boat for the 
Quarantine Station 
Oars & chain for same 

Rope, twine & canvas, paint, oil & turpentine 
for the schooner Ariel 
Repairs of buildings, including mechanics 
wages & materials 
Bedding & utensils 

Medicines supplied by the Commissariat 
Department in the year 1839 

Immigration & Quarantine 


to include Police Magistrates or Justices of Petty Sessions in ports near Port Jackson 
and Port Phillip. 

As the number of immigrants arriving in Australia grew, quarantine stations 
were established in various ports-of-entry in addition to Sydney and Melbourne. 
In July 1850 Nobbys Island in Port Newcastle was appointed as a place for 
quarantines. By 1852, a Quarantine Station was operating in Moreton Bay, 
Queensland; by 1874 at Albany, Western Australia, and by 1880 at Torrens Island, 
South Australia.’* Although all had a common purpose, to protect Australia from 
imported infectious diseases, there was no common approach to quarantine and 
each colony acted independently. 

‘Neither an Immigration nor a Medical Establishment* 

In New South Wales, as part of arrangements made in late 1847 for the renewed 
arrival of immigrant ships, the Colonial Secretary called for a report on the state 
of the Quarantine Station. Indicating that the Station was regarded as an 
immigration estabUshment, the task was given to a member of the Immigration 
Board, Water Police Magistrate Captain H. H. Browne, and not, as might have 
been expected, to Dr Savage as the Port’s Health Officer responsible for supervising 
quarantines.’* Browne’s report on 16 August 1847 described the buildings as 
generally clean and in good order and recommended some minor repairs and the 
erection of a watchman’s hut near the storehouse at an estimated cost for labour 
(involving two carpenters, a stonemason, a quarryman to quarry the stone on site, 
and a painter) of ^77 45. 8 V 2 d. Since the schooner Ariel was beyond repair, approval 
was also given for the construction of a new schooner Satellite at a cost of ^200, 
against which was allowed by the builder for the Ariel's hull.” 

The refurbished Station was not used, however, since none of the seventeen 
immigrant ships which arrived in 1848 was quarantined. Probably in anticipation 
of the projected arrival of 35 immigrant ships in 1849, the Colonial Secretary 
again called for a report on the Station on 8 December 1848, on this occasion 
giving the task to the Immigration Board, whose members included the Agent for 
immigration F. L. S. Merewether, H. H. Browne and Dr Savage.’* 

As a first task, the board considered alternative sites for the Station because of 
the problems caused both by the its distance from Sydney and difficult access in 
bad weather, but decided that there was ‘no available situation of equal eligibility’. 
On the basis of the board’s recommendations, the following work was completed 
by 24 March 1849: (a) a weatherboard cookhouse (12 feet square with hammered 
stone foundations and a shingle roof) for 150 people on the Healthy Ground, with 
two boilers, an oven and a stove with two gratings; (b) a small kitchen attached to 
the female’s hospital; (c) two ranges of privies for males and females on the Healthy 


In Quai^ntine 

Ground (there had been no toilet facilities before); (d) a partition in one of the 
hospitals to provide separate wards; (e) a shed at the landing place for use as a 
‘parlatorio’ in bad weather, where authorised visitors could talk to quarantined 
people and where deliveries of perishable foods could be placed until collected. 

For the first time, the need was raised to provide a better type of accommodation 
for ‘persons of a superior grade of life’, travelhng by first or second class, for whom 
the board proposed that two large and two small wards should be erected. However, 
this was thought to be unnecessary and the decision was taken merely to appropriate 
a storehouse to provide extra hospital accommodation. By 23 July 1849, work was 
also underway on sinking and stoning a new well, repairing the landing stage and 
various buildings, and constructing two sets of water closets (each four squares in 
area and with rubble stone cesspits). Despite these improvements, the shortage 
of accommodation was acute, particularly when the Emigrant was quarantined in 
June 1849, and over 300 people had to be accommodated. In a letter to Dr Savage, 
the ship’s surgeon reported that only the women and children could be housed in 
the buildings and that ‘to sum all, we have so many women and children at a 
tender age, so little accommodation and such bad weather, I fear our prospects are 
very bad indeed.’^® 

The initiative to improve both quarantine accommodation and procedures came 
when Captain H. H. Browne was appointed as the new Agent for Immigration on 
3 June 1851 at an initial salary of ;^650 per annum. As the senior immigration 
official, he considered that he was jointly responsible with the Health Officer for 
the management of the Station as part of the immigration establishment.^* In 
Browne’s new role, he met each immigrant ship on arrival, subsequently reporting 
to the Colonial Secretary on the health of the immigrants on board. He monitored 
any subsequent quarantine, visiting the Station frequendy. From the time of his 
appointment, all recommendations about work needed on the Station’s buildings 
were submitted to him for his initial approval. 

In July 1852 Browne directed the Colonial Architect, E. T. Blacket, to make 
urgent repairs to buildings and the landing stage and on 27 August 1852 he also 
requested Blacket to erect a building at the Landing Stage about eight feet long 
and six feet wide to house an ‘apparatus’ for the fumigation of mail before despatch 
to Sydney.^ On 22 November 1852, his recommendations for substantially increased 
accommodation and for changes to quarantine procedures were placed before the 
Executive Council. His proposal for a small gymnasium equipped with quoits was 
immediately approved but his other building recommendations were referred to 
the Colonial Architect for cost estimates. In an attempt to lessen delays in quarantine, 
Browne also recommended that the Superintendent of Quarantine, John Carroll, 
be empowered immediately on a vessel’s arrival in Spring Cove ‘to land the Healthy 
portion of passengers and crew together with their luggage and to cause them at 

Immigration &c Quarantine 


once to proceed with the washing of their clothes and such other precautionary 
measures as they may be instructed to pursue’. This was readily approved. 

Exceeding Browne’s area of competence in the opinion of the new Health 
Officer, Dr H. G. AUeyne, his recommendations included a proposal that a code of 
instructions be drawn up for the guidance both of masters of quarantined vessels 
and the Superintendent of Quarantine, setting out the normal duration and 
requirements of a quarantine in categories according to the virulence of the 
infectious disease on board. This was referred by the Executive Council to Dr 
Alleyne, with instructions that he and Browne should jointly prepare a code for 
the council’s approval.^ 

Dr. Haynes G. Alleyne , MD, LRCS (Edin.), had been appointed Health Officer 
of Port Jackson at a salary of ;^j530 per annum on 20 July 1852, following Dr 
Savage’s death. Alleyne’s medical competence was well regarded, particularly when 
in 1852 he became the first doctor in New South Wales to administer chloroform 
during a successful leg amputation at the Sydney Infirmary. He later occupied 
many distinguished medical positions during his period as the port’s Health Officer 
until 1882, but at the time of his appointment he had been registered as a medical 
practitioner only since 1848 and his most recent appointment had been as Coroner 
at Liverpool. 

Unlike Browne, Alleyne had little quarantine experience prior to his 
appointment. Adding to his problems, the administration of Quarantine Regulations 
in the Port had become lax and some overseas vessels, which were supposed to 
wait for a health clearance between the heads of the harbour and the lightship 
which marked the rocks known as the Sow and Pigs, were sailing up to Sydney’s 
wharves before he had time to check the health of people on board. When, for 
example, Alleyne was alerted by the Signal Master at Fort Phillip Signal Station of 
the arrival of the immigrant ship Kate, some time elapsed before the Customs boat 
arrived to row him out to the vessel. During this delay, the ship sailed up to 
Sydney Cove where, on coming alongside, Alleyne found that Browne and several 
other people had already boarded her. There had been an outbreak of typhus fever 
on board and four people were still ‘convalescent from various diseases’. After 
some argument with the captain and the ship’s surgeon, he sent the Kate back to 
Spring Cove for six days in quarantine.^* 

Some of Alleyne’s difficulties were eased by the eventual allocation of a whaleboat 
and crew for his sole use in visiting vessels, and by an amendment to the Quarantine 
Act on 24 October 1853 which, amongst other provisions, prevented overseas 
vessels from proceeding past Pinchgut Island until boarded by the Health Officer. 
However, Alleyne’s objections to Browne’s proposed code of instructions were 
never resolved. 

On this subject Browne and Alleyne were unable to agree, since Alleyne firmly 


In Quarantine 

believed that the proposed code was wrong in principle, and that the requirements 
for each quarantine should be determined by the special circumstances of each 
case. Eventually in 1854 the two men decided to submit separate reports to the 
Executive Council, which were considered on 23 July and 21 August 1854 and on 
2 January 1855. Stating that ‘it was not possible to classify the different cases in 
quarantine’, AUeyne urged the Council to recognise that the Quarantine Station 
was not an Immigration establishment but one requiring medical supervision. He 
pointed out that the sick could not be arbitrarily located in quarantine as proposed 
by the Immigration Agent and that, in the performance of his professional duties, 
it was not expedient that he should be associated with any other officer. 

Disclaiming any attempt to fetter Alleyne’s medical judgments, the Council 
replied in the following terms: ‘it is true that the Quarantine Ground cannot be 
considered wholly an Immigration Estabhshment — neither is it exclusively a medical 
establishment. There is much to be cared for in respect to the good order and 
morality of the persons confined there which can scarcely devolve upon the Health 
Officer and which have hitherto always been attended to by the Immigration 
Agent’^^.To overcome the problem of ‘clashing functions’, the Executive Council 
directed that any differences of opinion between the Health Officer and the Agent 
for Immigration should be resolved by the Immigration Board, of which both 
were members. 

Having disposed of the Health Officer’s objections in what the Council believed 
was a satisfactory manner, it decreed that the instructions for quarantine staff 
submitted by Alleyne and Browne independently, could be ‘amalgamated with 
advantage’. The result was a Code of Quarantine Regulations which set out the 
procedures to be followed under three categories - (a) when virulent fever existed 
at the arrival of the ship; (b) when disease existed at the time of arrival which did 
not require the separation of the healthy firom the diseased, or when the recent 
occurrence of disease on board made requisite precautionary measures of cleansing 
and purifying; and (c) when vessels arrived from proclaimed ports or places 
where virulent disease existed, but there had been no apparent disease on the 
voyage. It also specified the procedures to be followed at the Station during a 

Alleyne’s reaction to a document which he believed was wrong in principle 
was simply to ignore it, making his stand quite clear in his 1855 Annual Report 
which was tabled in parliament but raised no questions. When questioned in 1881 
about the printed Code of Quarantine Regulations which Carroll occasionally 
handed to ship’s masters during the next 26 years,Alleyne replied:‘I have considered 
them obsolete for years past; they were intended for immigrant ships under 
conditions which never occurred; they were drawn up under the idea that certain 
buildings would be erected and certain appointments made which were never 

Immigflation & Quarantine 


carried out’. In reply to a question whether any other printed rules had been 
issued, he answered no, that he was always in favour of dealing with each ship 
upon its own merits. 

In the Report of the Royal Commission into the management of the Station in 
1881, the lack of written procedural instructions was blamed for some of the 
problems which had arisen during the 1881 smallpox epidemic. Commenting 
that the Superintendent of Quarantine, John Carroll, had taken some of the code’s 
instructions for his guidance, ignoring others, the Commissioners made the point 
that ‘Proper regulations for the management of this establishment should, no doubt 
have been in existence, and these, with a few alterations might have been made 
suitable to the altered state of affairs, and thus saved a large amount of trouble and 

Probably if the Colonial Secretary had retained responsibility for quarantine, 
the fact that the printed Code of Quarantine Regulations had no resemblance to 
actual procedures would have been corrected. But a reorganisation of ministerial 
portfolios in 1859 placed quarantine administration, and the Health Officer, under 
the control of the Colonial Treasurer. The Treasurer, grappling with the problems 
of his new portfoUo, was quite satisfied to adopt Alleyne’s recommendations for 
each quarantine without concerning himself with an illusory code. 

It might have been expected that Browne, as the prime mover in estabhshing 
the code, would have raised the issue, but his own problems became considerable 
when in 1855 the activities and size of the greatly expanded Immigration 
Department were closely scrutinised by a parliamentary committee. Following the 
decision in June 1 860 to discontinue assisted immigration, Browne was retrenched 
in a manner which he described as ‘cruel, unjust and ungenerous’.” 

During 1861-2, Alleyne acted as Immigration Agent until G. F. Wise was 
appointed Agent for Immigration on 1 November 1862, following the decision to 
resume assisted immigration. The dichotomous control of the Station was resumed, 
with Wise supervising the condition of the Station and Carroll’s work, while Alleyne 
supervised the performance of quarantine. 

*Two Hundred Single Women Let Loose in the Bush*, 1853 

Browne’s recommendations in 1852 for more accommodation at the Station, which 
had accompanied his proposal for a code of quarantine instructions, might have 
languished in the Colonial Architect’s in-tray for an indefinite period, as sometimes 
happened. However, circumstances surrounding the quarantine of the Beejapore 
on 9 January 1853 brought a degree of urgency to the recommendations, since 
the ship carried over 1 000 people and the Station’s buildings could only 
accommodate about 150. 


In Quarantine 

The Beejapore, 1 347 tons, was one of the few two-decked ships chartered 
experimentally by the British Emigration Commissioners to test the practicability 
of reducing emigration costs by chartering larger vessels. When the experiment 
was deemed a failure, both because of widespread sickness on this and a similar 
vessel which carried immigrants to Victoria and because it was found to be 
‘impossible to control so large a body of persons’, the Emigration Commissioners 
decided that they would never again charter a vessel carrying passengers on two 

According to Dr Alleyne, the Beejapore was a remarkably fine ship but with 
inadequate ventilation for the large number of passengers. Measles and scarlet fever, 
which had been rife in the Liverpool Emigration Depot, had been carried on 
board and 55 people died on the 85-day voyage, mostly from measles and typhus 
fever. During the quarantine another 62 people died at the Station; most ‘from a 
fever of a typhoid kind’.^* 

On receiving her master’s report of disease on board, Alleyne immediately 
quarantined the vessel in Spring Cove, where he held preliminary discussions 
with Carroll and the ship’s master about quarantine procedures. On the 
following morning, the ship’s surgeon-superintendent met Alleyne and Carroll 
on shore to inspect the four ‘black-painted’ buildings on the Healthy Ground 
which could accommodate only about 100 people, and the hospital on the 
Sick Ground, which could only accommodate about 50 people, and was told 
that most of the immigrants would have to be housed in tents, since the ship 
had to be cleared for cleansing. That evening, some of the crew erected seven 
tents on the Sick Ground, and on the following day a further 30 tents were 
erected on the Healthy Ground. By 12 January when about 90 tents had been 
erected, a cabin passenger, W. Usherwood, described the Station as ‘more like 
a soldiers’ encampment than anything’.^^ 

Sick people were landed as quickly as possible and placed under the care of 
a doctor sent from Sydney. Plans to land the large contingent of single girls 
were deferred, however, following a visit to the ship by both Alleyne and 
Browne, when instructions were given that all clothing was to be thoroughly 
washed before landing. On 12 January in intermittent rain, about 150 single 
girls were landed with their luggage, bedding and cooking utensils. On the 
following morning T. R. Miles, who had been appointed teacher and religious 
instructor on the voyage, visited their camp and found that the clothing and 
bedding of many had been soaked by torrential rain during the night. On 
Miles’ return to the ship, he gave a ‘miserable account’ of the conditions on 
shore but the ship’s captain decided, after going on shore, that Miles’ account 
was ‘as usual very much exaggerated’. Orders were given for the disembarkation 
of the remaining single women, despite the tearful pleas of those who were 

Immigration & Quarantine 


unnerved by the sight of the Station, the Burial Ground and the sentries who, 
it was incorrectly rumoured, had orders to shoot anyone who strayed beyond 
the Station’s boundary pillars.” 

Amongst the 62 people who died subsequently on shore was Miles’ eighteen- 
year-old year-old daughter, Gabriella, described as a hvely, popular girl who liked 
to watch storms and high seas from the top deck while other girls wept in fear 
below. In a bitter letter to the Colonial Secretary on 14 January, her grieving 
father wrote that Gabriella had become ‘the first victim to the obstinate and 
imperious conduct of the surgeon-superintendent. She had neither infection nor 
contagion. She was buried on Tuesday last’.^^ 

In the same letter. Miles asked that a medical deputation be sent to the Station 
since there were fears that another few days might increase the number of victims 
already laid ‘in the narrow Burial Ground in Spring Cove’. Reporting that the 
Drug Dispenser, Charles Robinson, had been found intoxicated on the previous 
night. Miles also wrote that: ‘Reports on shore are of a shocking kind as regards 
the moral conduct of some of the married women and men — not men and their 
wives — and what do the colonial authorities anticipate from two hundred single 
women let loose in the bush where supervision is altogether impossible?’^* 

Miles’ letter was referred to the Immigration Board, whose members included 
both Browne and Alleyne. Solemnly, the Board informed the Colonial Secretary 
that it was aware of the opportunities for ‘the commssion of iregularities’ presented 
by ‘the uncleared nature of the Quarantine Ground as well as the entire absence of 
any classification of the Immigrants’.** A trumpet call had been sounded to protect 
the immigrants’ morals (if necessary despite their personal inclinations) and the 
response was a complete reorganisation of accommodation. 

The Hospital Ship Harmony and the reorganised Station, 1853 

By July 1853, the Colonial Architect had a team of workmen encamped at the 
Station. Under the new plan, people who were suffering from an infectious 
disease and who had previously been accommodated on the Sick Ground, 
were now to be placed on board a hospital ship moored in Spring Cove. Another 
building was erected on the former Sick Ground, renamed ‘the Point’, which 
then became the place where single women were housed under the watchful 
eye of a matron. A double line of fencing with two gates was erected around 
the buildings, where a constable was stationed between the fences to prevent 
any contact with the single women during a quarantine. Two more buildings 
were erected on the Healthy Ground, each accommodating about 60 people, 
and verandahs were added on three sides of all buildings, so that people could 
eat under shelter.” 


In Quaru\ntine 

In place of the former hospital buildings, the hulk Harmony (a vessel of 600 
tons) was purchased for £1 600 in 1853 and refitted as a hospital ship which 
was then moored in Spring Cove. Dr Alleyne had not been included in any 
discussions of the new buildings; indeed his request to Blacket to view the plans 
was refused. He was consulted, however, about the conversion of the Harmony 
into a hospital ship. 

A floor was laid on the bottom of the ship to provide a second deck, with a 
height from floor to ceiling of 8 feet, and an upper deck with a height of 6 feet 10 
inches. Each deck was divided into two wards, providing total accommodation for 
60-70 beds which could be used to separate sexes and various types of diseases. 
Additionally, there were compartments for a surgeon, wardsmen and nurses, a 
room for compounding medicines, a cookhouse, and ‘every requisite for a 
well-arranged hospital’.^* 

The cost of the additions and repairs to the Station’s buildings was £A 169 I85. 
3d. in 1853, and the purchase and fitting up of the Harmony was £4 270 14s, Id. 
In 1854 building costs at the Station were £4 976 and the cost of further fittings 
for the Harmony was ;4^868 15s. lOd. 

Somewhat optimistically, Browne informed a Select Committee on Quarantine 
Laws on 12 August 1853 that the improvements would provide permanent 
accommodation for seven or eight hundred people ‘with great ease’. More 
realistically, Alleyne placed the figure at about 450 people, with the hospital ship 
housing a further 60-70 people.^’ 

The changes at the Station had included the selection of a new site for a second 
Burial Ground, following a report firom J. White, Clerk of Works, that the first 
Burial Ground was: ‘just below the Healthy Station and so conspicuous that Parties 
cannot go out to take the firesh air, without being reminded of the mortality of so 
many placed in similar circumstances to themselves; besides which the water which 
supplies the Station trickles thru the Grave Yard on one side and the association is 
anything but agreeable’.^® On 23 May 1853 the Executive Council directed that 
‘the fencing of the present Burial Ground be entirely removed and the surface of 
the ground levelled and the gravestones now standing should be carefully transferred 
to the new ground but that the remains of the dead interred there should not be 

The second Burial Ground was located in the bush behind the buildings on the 
Healthy Ground. It was dedicated as a Church of England Cemetery on 26 
September 1872 when trustees were also appointed. Burials were hasty affairs 
from which any friends or relatives on the Healthy Ground were excluded to 
prevent the risk of infection. Generally the bodies were carried to their graves by 
convalescent immigrants or the people appointed to assist the doctor in charge. 
Until 1881, there was no formal service at the time of burial. 

Immigration & Quarantine 


The Select Committee on Quarantine Laws, 1853 

In deciding to proceed with the re-organisation of the Station, the Executive 
Council had pre-empted the outcome of discussions on the need to maintain 
quarantine laws. Following an outbreak of cholera in Great Britain in 1847, the 
General Board of Health in London had been instructed to report to the Houses 
of Parliament on the efficacy of quarantine. Adopting the view that there were 
unequivocal indications of a relationship between atmospheric conditions and the 
progress of disease, the board reported that ‘the extent of the range of great epidemics 
equally shows that they are beyond the control of quarantine’.'*^ 

It was a persuasive argument, particularly since Britain’s closeness to Europe 
meant that it was difficult to control the importation of disease. In place of the 
high cost of maintaining quarantine establishments, and of disrupting the free 
movement of trade, the British government was most willing to adopt an alternative 
to quarantine which involved medical inspection followed by the isolation only of 
people who showed symptoms of an infectious disease, while maintaining a close 
medical supervision of contacts. No doubt with these developments in mind, the 
Legislative Council of New South Wales in 1853 appointed one of its members, A. 
T. Holroyd, as Chairman of a Select Committee on Quarantine Laws, ‘to inquire 
into the Quarantine Laws of the Colony, with a view to ascertain whether they 
can be modified or limited without danger to the public’. 

Holroyd was a medical graduate, a barrister and a senator who was ‘always 
sensible and sometimes vigorous in his address’. In a published account of his 
travels during which he had been quarantined outside Beyrout (sic), he had pointed 
out the weaknesses of quarantine, maintaining that ‘the whole quarantine system is 
a medley of contradictions, absurdities and inconsistencies, kept up from ignorance 
or interested motives’. He would require strong persuasion to be convinced of 
the need for quarantine in Port Jackson, which he apparently received. 

The Select Committee, which included the first Health Officer, Dr J. Dobie, 
examined a number of witnesses, including AUeyne and Browne. Although opinion 
was divided, most were in favour of retaining quarantine. Medical witnesses argued 
that the colony’s present immunity from epidemics of smallpox and measles could 
be attributed to the enforcement of quarantine regulations. Sydney’s vulnerability 
to the rapid spread of epidemic disease was emphasised, and the committee was 
reminded that the places where immigrants were forced by their economic 
circumstances to find accommodation were ‘the small courts, with wretched 
tenements crowded from top to bottom’, which would quickly become the centre 
of disease.Whatever uncertainty the committee and the medical witnesses obviously 
felt about the contagious nature of some diseases, it seemed wise to be cautious. 
Accordingly the committee reported that ‘upon a review of the evidence and 


In Quarantine 

mature consideration of the whole subject, they are not prepared to recommend 
any alteration of the present system’/® 

The committee had been given a further term of reference — whether or not it 
was desirable to have a board of health in Sydney to decide questions connected 
with quarantine regulations. The committee replied that since the Health Officer 
conferred whenever necessary with the Medical Adviser of the government, a 
board of health was not recommended at present. The much-needed board had to 
wait for a further 28 years before it was appointed to supervise aspects of health 
administration in New South Wales, including the control of infectious diseases 
and quarantine. 

‘Everything is Very Clean and Nice* , 1855 

When the immigrant ship Constitution arrived from Southampton on 27 May 
1855, the 375 immigrants on board were among the first to use the reorganised 
Station and the hospital ship Harmony. 

The Constitution was a ‘salted’ ship, which meant rock salt had been packed into 
all cavities between planks to preserve her timbers. As moisture seeped into the 
salt, it caused constant dampness below-decks and an odour which was nearly 
unbearable for steerage-class passengers. In the opinion of the Agent for 
Immigration, shared by the Health Officer, much of the sickness on the voyage 
was due to the salting process, and in his report on the condition of the immigrants 
on arrival he claimed that ‘whenever disease of a malignant nature breaks out on a 
vessel that has undergone the practice of salting it invariably assumes a typhoid 
character, and not only does the patient’s disease become more obstinate but the 
health of all other passengers also seems to a considerable degree to be affected by 
the infusion of poisonous gases’. But, even more dangerously, the 
surgeon-superintendent’s supply of vaccine lymph was in a poor condition, thus 
largely ineffective as a protection against smallpox which had been carried in its 
incubating stage onto the ship.^® 

On the voyage, four people died from smallpox and ten from ‘whooping cough, 
diarrhoea or fever’. On arrival, there were twelve cases of smallpox amongst the 
immigrants, and during the 65-day quarantine which followed, another thirteen 
people died.^’ 

Throughout both the voyage and quarantine, one of the married immigrants, 
Charles Moore, maintained a diary in which he recorded his impressions in vivid 
terms, unfettered by the rules of spelling or syntax. His first impression of the 
Station on arrival was that ‘everything is very clean and nice’. Later, wearied by the 
long confinement and cramped conditions, he wrote, ‘we are getting tired of this 
place’. Disembarkation at North Head began after breakfast on 29 May, starting 

Immigration & Quarantine 


with the single women. Dinner, served at 3 p.m., was ‘ baked mutton and boiled 
potatoes and soup made of rice, pumpkins, cabbage and carrots. Tea was at 6 p.m., 
the bread was beautiful, being kept to certain things 14 weeks is no joke on pea 
supe and salt horse’.^* 

The luggage was landed on 30 May, and on ‘a very hot day’, the men carried the 
luggage on their backs up the slopes (‘dreadful hilly and sand and stone’) to the 
quarters for married couples and single men.These, Moore wrote, looked like barracks 
and were about 20 feet apart, each about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide with a 
verandah on one side and both ends. The roofs were made of wooden shingles and 
there were no ceUings, ‘just Hke a barn’. There were no seats or tables, the beds were 
close together without any means of privacy, and ‘not a bit of room to put a thing’ 
other than a htde clock which he hung over his bed to remind him of Battersea. The 
room was shared by 29 adults and 20 children, ‘besides boxes and bugs’. 

The single women were housed under the supervision of a matron on what was 
formerly the Sick Ground, where a constable guarded the gates of the double 
fence around the area. People who were infected •with smallpox were taken to the 
Harmony, which meant that ‘husbands and -wives [were] parted and children from 
their Mothers’. When a young woman died on the Harmony (according to Moore, 
from lockjaw), a bell was tolled on the ship to -warn people on shore to stay out of the 
way while the burial took place. Her corpse, sewn up in blankets, was carried up the 
slopes, past the buildings on the Healthy Ground, to the second Burial Ground. 

Moore’s pithy comments on the progress, of the quarantine included mention 
of Carroll’s taciturn nature, which was to be criticised by others during his long 
period in office: ‘The governor of the place is an Irishman, he wont come near 
and if you ask him a question he wont answer us’. Describing the white boundary 
piUars, which marked the Station’s guarded boundary line , as being ‘about 8 feet 
high’, he added ‘we must not go past them, there are Sentry Boxes for solgers in 
case of a queer lot and we dont want them to come if we can help it for it is a nasty 
slur on us. The disease as been quite enough’^’ 

On 25 June, by which time Moore was very tired of sharing a room with 49 
people, he wrote that four masons had erected a ‘very nice monument’, standing 
about eight feet high, in memory of those that died at sea. Fifty years later, on 
Empire Day 24 May 1905, 22 of the Constitutions former passengers, the eldest of 
whom was then 88 years old, held a reunion at the Station and placed tablets on 
the monument recording their names.®” Possibly some remembered the further 
problems endured by 29 immigrants on their release from quarantine. This group, 
which consisted of convalescents, the widows whose husbands had died on the 
voyage or in quarantine and the families of men who were still quarantined, were 
to be sent to the Immigration Depot at Parramatta under the care of Dr A. 
Gumming. Unfortunately the doctor became drunk (for which dereliction he 


In Quarantine 

was deprived of his gratuity); the bewildered immigrants missed the Parramatta 
steamer and had to spend the night on the open wharf in Sydney.** No doubt they 
would have heartily endorsed Moore’s rueful comment during his voyage to Sydney, 
‘I don’t believe anyone can tell what Emigration is like but them that is in it’.*^ 

An unusual feature of Moore’s writings was his cheerful acceptance of the 
quarantine. Perhaps it contrasted favourably with shipboard life, but the recent 
improvements to the Station may have contributed. It seems that Dr Alleyne’s 
report was justified when he wrote on 1 June 1855, ‘The buildings at the Station 
are all in good repair and are now sufficient for the requirements of the Port; there 
are ample and good accommodation for the number of persons that are likely to 
be detained there at any one time’.** 

Following the quarantine of the warship Juno in 1855, improvements were made 
to the Station’s water supply by installing water tanks capable of storing 16 500 
gallons, and in 1858 a large cookhouse was erected on the Healthy Ground.*^ By 
the 1860’s, however, the situation had altered once more. There was widespread 
unemployment and litde reason to encourage government-assisted immigration. 
As the numbers of immigrant ships declined, the Government saw Uttle justification 
for spending money on the upkeep of the Station and letters from Superintendent 
Carroll requesting urgent repairs to the buildings and flagstaff received little response. 


COMMISSION, 1860-81 

In June 1860, the colonial government cancelled the regulations under which 
approved immigrants were granted assisted passages to the colony. Although new 
regulations to promote immigration were adopted in June 1861, they were rescinded 
on 11 December 1867, establishing a pattern for the following years of either 
suspending or promoting assisted immigration depending on the availability of 
Treasury funds. As a result, in the 20 years from 1860 to 1879, only 138 immigrant 
vessels arrived in Port Jackson, compared with 410 immigrant vessels from 1840 
to 1859. Of these, 33 immigrant ships were quarantined, many solely for cleansing 
purposes with no need to use the Station’s buildings.' 

Inevitably government interest in the need to maintain the Station lessened. 
Throughout the 1860s, frequent letters from the Superintendent of Quarantine, 
John Carroll, to the Agent for Immigration, pointing out the need for repairs to 
the buildings and the hospital ship Harmony were either ignored or received minimal 
response. Official indifference isolated the Station and its staff as effectively as any 

Health on the immigrant ships was generally good, attributed by the Port’s 
Health Officer, Dr H. G.AUeyne to ‘the excellent arrangements for securing efficient 
ventilation between decks, the Enforcement of the Orders in Council relating to 
cleanliness etc. and the superior quality of the provisions issued to passengers.’^ 
These arrangements had been achieved mainly by successive amendments to the 
Passengers’ Act, which had compelled ship owners to improve conditions on their 
ships. Also influential had been the Agent for Immigration’s report on the condition 
of the immigrants on board each immigrant ship on arrival; any complaints were 
investigated, and any masters who had breached the terms of the charter-party 
agreement could have payment withheld and be banned from carrying immigrants 
in future. 

The promise of gratuities was a further inducement to good performance on 
the voyage. This was extended to most people charged with the care of the 
immigrants, as shown in the following list of gratuities available on the immigrant 
ship Samuel Plimsoll in 1879: 

Under-mentioned gratuities have been promised on the condition that 
the several parties have performed their duties to the satisfaction of the 
Government, viz: Surgeon-Superintendent 12s. per head; Master, First 


In Quarantine 

Mate, Second Mate, Third Mate or person who served out provisions - 
4s. on each immigrant landed alive to be recommended as the 
Surgeon-Superintendent recommends, subject to the approval of the 
Government; to the Schoolmaster the Matron and the three 
Sub-Matrons ^2) each; Cook Cook’s assistant Baker ^3; Man 
in charge of Distilling Apparatus Hospital Assistant ;£3;Water Closet 
Constable ,(^5; the ordinary and female mess constables each 

Changes were also apparent in the type of vessels quarantined. As the commercial 
importance of the Colony grew, the Station came to be used increasingly for the 
quarantine of vessels other than immigrant ships. From 1860 to 1879, 29 vessels 
(traders, passenger ships, mail ships and warships) were quarantined there.'* For the 
most part, such quarantines involved little use of the Station other than its cleansing 
facilities. Crew usually remained on board, and although suspected infectious cases 
were sometimes placed in the Station’s hospital, they were just as likely to remain 
isolated in the vessel’s longboat under a tarpaulin to Uve or die with Httle care.The 
Station was regarded as a place intended for the quarantine of assisted immigrants 
travelling in steerage class. The arrival of vessels in quarantine with passengers 
travelling by first class, however, brought under review the inadequacy of existing 

Buildings for *the Proper Classification of Passengers*, 1873-1876 

Two quarantines were particularly instrumental in convincing the colonial 
government of the need for a better type of accommodation for passengers traveUing 
by first and second class. The first of these was the quarantine of the Hero, which 
arrived on 1 July 1872 with a passenger, J. Sutcliffe, infected with smallpox. Sutcliffe 
was immediately taken to the Station’s hospital, accompanied by one of the ship’s 
stewards who had kindly volunteered to act as his nurse. Sutcliffe died some days later. 

Some weeks into the quarantine, the young daughter of cabin passengers Dr 
and Mrs Macartney, developed a mild case of smallpox.This resulted in an extension 
of the quarantine for some of the passengers and crew until 5 September. 
Throughout the quarantine, the passengers remained on board, except during 
cleansing operations and occasional landings for recreational purposes, a decision 
which was almost certainly taken because of the lack of suitable accommodation 
on shore. As frequently happened, the long detention caused considerable 
resentment, and the cabin passengers were outspoken in their condemnation of 
the administration of their quarantine.* 

The quarantine of first-class passengers on the Baroda for ten days from 9 May 
1873, made the lack of suitable accommodation on shore at the Station even more 
public. Shortly before the steamship arrived in Melbourne, en route to Sydney, a 

A ‘Rough Place’ 1860-81 


Lascar crew member was found to be infected with smallpox and kept isolated in 
a lifeboat until landed at Melbourne’s Quarantine Station. On arrival in Sydney, 
the vessel and all on board were quarantined despite vigorous protests from the 
first-class passengers, prominent amongst whom was Henry A. Merewether, a 
barrister and Town Clerk of London, who subsequently published a book about 
his travels which included a highly critical version of his experiences at the Station. 

The possibility of using the bare, comfortless immigrants’ quarters was not 
contemplated. According to Merewether, the passengers were told that there were 
only twelve beds available for the passengers at the Station where, by special 
arrangement, he was allowed to share the doctor’s house. His criticism extended to 
most aspects of the quarantine, including the fact that he had to do his own washing 
until he was able to arrange for a laundry-woman employed to wash the ship’s 
linen to also wash his clothes some of which, he claimed, she stole. Although three 
servants were sent by the ship’s agents to the Station, the passengers still had to 
perform many chores. Merewether was particularly scathing about the need for ‘a 
gentleman of much consideration, with his coat off’ to carry up two cans of water 
from the spring, ‘while his wife swept out her premises in a velvet gown 

Merewether’s distinguished friends provided an influential audience for his 
complaints. Amongst his visitors (in what appears to have been a breach of quarantine 
rules), were the Governor of New South Wales, the Governor ofTasmania and the 
former Colonial Secretary, E. Deas Thomson. Not surprisingly, steps for the 
provision of a better class of accommodation were soon taken. 

The Colonial Treasurer’s correspondence for this period has been destroyed and 
the sequence of events can only be traced through a surviving index to his 
correspondence. This reveals that in the latter part of 1873, repairs were made to 
buildings, a new fumigator was purchased for disinfecting clothes, new bedding 
was purchased and tenders were accepted for the erection of new buildings. Tenders 
were also called for a new boat for the Station. The expenditure on Public Works 
in 1874 showed an amount of 000 had been set aside for the erection of 
buildings for ‘the proper classification of passengers’, of which an amount of ;£350 
had already been expended, indicating that work had already begun on the buildings, 
which were completed by 1876.’ 

A plan of the Station in 1876 shows that four new buildings had been erected in 
what was called the Cabin Enclosure. One building was designated for the use of 
single women, one for single men and two for families, providing accommodation 
for a total of 68 people travelling as first class passengers. Additionally a large 
cookhouse was provided with servants’ quarters attached. ®The dangerous condition 
of the hospital ship Harmony, had been the subject of reports from Superintendent 
Carroll for some years. This was now replaced by the Faraway, a wooden barque 
with a length of 142 feet, a breadth of 26 feet and a depth of 16 feet.’ Despite the 


In Quarantine 

upgrading work, the immigrants’ quarters, first erected in late 1837 and extended 
in the early 1850s, remained unchanged. 

The Grounng Threat of Smallpox 

In earlier years the most common cause for a quarantine was typhus fever, a 
description which may have included cases of yet unidentified typhoid fever. But, 
by the mid-1850s, improvements in sanitation in the British emigration depots 
and on the immigrant ships had brought the disease largely under control. In its 
place, smallpox became the most frequent cause for quarantines, either because of 
an epidemic at a port-of-call or because of an outbreak during the voyage. 

To some extent the colony had been protected from smallpox by the assisted- 
immigration regulations which required that applicants be medically checked for 
immunity, obtained either through prior infection or by vaccination. Although 
the virus which caused smallpox had not yet been discovered, the contagious 
nature of the disease had been recognised for many years. In 1796, Edward Jenner 
had demonstrated that immunity could be gained by inoculation with matter taken 
from a cowpock pustule, but few of the inhabitants of New South Wales had been 

The awareness of the port’s Health Officer, Dr Alleyne, to the vulnerability of 
Sydney’s residents to smallpox had brought the compulsory quarantine during the 
gold rush years of 1853 and 1854 of all vessels arriving from California and the 
Pacific Islands where smallpox was endemic, until he had checked the health of all 
on board.*® He continued this practice over the following years, whenever advice 
was received of epidemics in various ports-of-call. 

In 1856, circumstances surrounding an outbreak of smallpox on the German 
immigrant ship Caesar Goddejry alerted Alleyne to the danger that the disease could 
be brought into the country by infected bedding or clothing. Smallpox had first 
appeared when the vessel had been 73 days at sea. Seven days earlier a box of 
clothes had been brought from the vessel’s hold and distributed amongst a family, 
all five members of whom became infected with smallpox. From this and a similar 
occurrence on another immigrant ship, Alleyne deduced that there was ‘no other 
mode of accounting for its origin than that the contagion had been derived from 
clothing brought into use during the voyage’. Thereafter, he recommended the 
quarantine of all vessels on which there had been any case of smallpox so that all 
bedding and clothing could be washed.** Until 1 876, the long voyage which allowed 
time for incubating diseases to become evident, and AUeyne’s precautions protected 
the colony. 

One of the difficulties of any smallpox quarantine was the reluctance of Sydney 
doctors to accept a posting to the Station, because of the length of smallpox 

A ‘Rough Place’ 1860-81 


quarantines (at least 30 days) and the virulence of the disease. For the quarantine 
of the Hero in 1872 and at least four other vessels, AUeyne employed a Sydney resident, 
William Walsh, to care for smallpox patients at a fee of per day plus rations. 

However Walsh’s only medical qualification was a certificate classifying him as a 
medical assistant, granted by the London Society of Apothecaries in 1838, and 
during the quarantine of the Hero, his lack of formal medical qualifications was 
questioned by the New South Wales Legislative Council on 31 July 1872. Defending 
Walsh’s appointment, AUeyne replied: ‘1 do not believe... a better man than Mr. 
Walsh could have been found among aU the legaUy qualified men in Sydney to 
perform the work he was sent to do’,*^ words which no doubt returned to haunt 
him when the extent of Walsh’s neglect of his patients during the 1881 smaUpox 
epidemic was revealed during the subsequent Royal Commission into the 
management of the Station. 

Until the advent of steamships, the time taken for sailing vessels to reach Australia 
had provided a barrier against the introduction of infectious diseases while stiU in 
their incubating stages. By the 1870’s, however, steamships were arriving in short 
time from overseas ports, increasing the danger that smaUpox could be carried 
unwittingly into Sydney. On 10 December 1876, the Torres Strait Mail Steamer 
Brisbane arrived in Port Jackson from eastern ports via Cooktown, and was admitted 
to pratique on the basis of her captain’s report that there was no sickness on board. 
Unknown to the captain, one of the crew was incubating smaUpox which he 
transmitted to members of the Holden famUy in Sydney, two of whom died. In turn, 
one of the crew of the maU steamer Australia became infected, together with several 
of the crew of the visiting British warships Wolverene, Sappho and Conflict which were 
first quarantined at Garden Island before being moved up to Spring Cove.^^ 

Although the Station had been established for maritime purposes, its use by 
soldiers of the 1 2th Regiment stationed at Parramatta had been approved by the 
Executive Council on 28 March 1859 during an epidemic of scarlatina in the 
barracks.'^ Whether or not the soldiers were actually quarantined there is not 
certain, but the decision indicated that the Station was available for use during 
land epidemics, and not only for maritime quarantines. Faced with the problem 
of where to isolate Sydney residents and ships’ crews in 1876, the Executive Council 
approved the use of the Station, including the hospital ship Faraway. As part of the 
precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, the Council also ordered the 
quarantine and fumigation of certain houses and wharves. “ 

Since the mail ships Brisbane and Australia were already anchored in Spring 
Cove, soon to be joined by the quarantined warships, the Executive Council decided 
to station the Faraway in Little Sirius Cove, and proclaimed the ship and the 
waters of the cove as a place of quarantine. Three people who died during the 
outbreak were buried in the second Burial Ground at the Station.'* 


In Quarantine 

By May 1877 the outbreak was over, and the proclamation appointing the 
Faraway as a smallpox hospital and the waters of Little Sirius Cove as a place of 
quarantine was rescinded. The Faraway was towed to an anchorage in Spring Cove, 
and on 5 May 1877 one of Carrolls sons was appointed resident caretaker on 
board at a salary of £7S per annum, holding this position until he was dismissed in 
1881 during the Royal Commission. 

Significantly, the decision to use the Station during an outbreak of smallpox in 
Sydney fostered the behef, at government level, that moving smallpox cases to the 
Station had prevented a major epidemic of smallpox in Sydney. This influenced 
the decision in 1881 to use the Station for the quarantine of Sydney residents 
during a smallpox epidemic, a decision which exposed to pubUc view the weaknesses 
in the management of the Station. 

The Management of the Station 

The Executive Council’s ruling in 1855 that the Station was neither an immigration 
nor a medical establishment had unfortunate consequences for its management, 
where lines of responsibility and powers of delegation became increasingly blurred 
over the years. In theory, the Agent for Immigration supervised the condition of 
the Station and any arrangements relating to the welfare of quarantined immigrants, 
while the Health Officer supervised the performance of quarantines. In practice 
by 1880, as the quarantines of the immigrant ships Smyrna and Camperdown revealed, 
neither officer was adequately supervising quarantines. 

When the Smyrna was quarantined in 1878 because of several cases of scarlet 
and typhoid fever amongst the 460 immigrants on board. Superintendent Carroll 
gave the ship’s surgeon-superintendent. Dr C. H. Gibson, a copy of the 1855 
Code of Quarantine Regulations but told him the Regulations were in abeyance 
and gave no advice about quarantine procedures. Gibson was disturbed to find that 
no provision was made to separate infected people from convalescents. Food suppHes 
were so inadequate that he informed the Agent for Immigration that people were 
threatening to break out of quarantine. 

In the immigrants’ quarters at the Station, Gibson found that the sleeping 
arrangements were ‘inconsistent with decency... there were no blinds to the 
windows, no divisions in the rooms — men and women [that is of course amongst 
the married people] all sleeping in the same large compartment.There was absolutely 
no preparation whatever... neither disinfectant, soaps, candles, lanterns - no furniture 
[except bare bedsteads], no library, no means of appliances for their comfort and 

When the Camperdown was quarantined in 1880 because of measles amongst 
the 400 immigrants on board, the Java, which had arrived from China with smallpox 

A ‘Rough Place’ 1860-81 


on board, was anchored to windward about a ship’s length away. After three days 
the Camperdowti was moved to Watson’s Bay to avoid proximity with the Java, but 
even there Gibson again found cause to complain about shortages of provisions, 
delays in receiving medicines and medical comforts and breaches of quarantine by 
the Health Officer’s crew. 

By 1880, Carroll had held office for 39 years and AUeyne for 27 years. Alley ne’s 
work commitments had grown beyond those of the port s Health Officer and 
quarantine was only a small part of his responsibihties. His appointments included 
Medical Adviser to the government, president of both the Board of Pharmacy and 
the Medical Board, and member of the Board ofVisitors to the Lunatic Asylum. 
Although Alleyne considered that Carroll was ‘not a very bright man’, he was 
satisfied that ‘according to his abihties, he discharged his duties well’*’ and he 
relied increasingly on CarroU during quarantines. When, during the 1880 quarantine 
of the Java, concern was expressed in Sydney that AUeyne might carry smaUpox 
back to Sydney, he adopted the practice of using CarroU to relay messages to and 
from the quarantined doctors, a decision which gave CarroU a seeming authority 
which caused much resentment and misunderstanding during the smaUpox 
epidemic in the foUowing year. 

During Carroll’s long period in office, his authoritarian attitude to quarantined 
people became entrenched. His own perception of his growing authority was weU 
illustrated during the quarantine of the Panama mail steamer Kaikoura, when a 
complaint was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9 January 1869 about 
unnecessary delays in quarantine. Carroll’s aggressively worded report to AUeyne, 
which was presented to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, included the 
significant words that he had ‘sent for’ the ship’s captain and told him what he had 
to do before the vessel could be released. “ This was a marked change in attitude 
since the early years of his appointment when he was the one who was rowed out 
to a ship to speak to her captain! 

In the Report of the Royal Commission in 1 881 , a number of aspects of Carroll’s 
work were criticised, including the fact that an examination of his stock book had 
convinced the Commissioners he was not qualified to be a storekeeper.^* No 
criticism was made of a system which had aUowed such a state of affairs to continue 
for the 40 years of his service. In 1868 CarroU’s record-keeping procedures had 
been closely scrutinised when the Agent for Immigration, G. F. Wise, complained 
to the Colonial Treasurer that bedding for 200 immigrants landed fix)m the Devonport 
was not recorded in the stock-book. CarroU was suspended without pay for five 
weeks, causing him severe financial hardship, while the matter was investigated. “ 

The cause of the quarantine, during which three people died from ‘fever’ and 
one from erysipelas, was described as ‘sickness of a febrile character’. It had been a 
singularly frightening voyage, since a the bad distribution of a heavy load of iron 


In Quarantine 

and cement had caused the ship to roll ‘frightfully’, causing ‘a great deal of discomfort 
and no small danger’. Between-decks had been frequently swamped with water 
and the quarters of the 188 single women on board was almost continually awash 
to the detriment of their health. “ 

During the investigation of Carroll’s records following the quarantine of ten 
days for the ship and 41 days for infected passengers, he claimed that he had been 
given permission by the former Agent for Immigration, H. H. Browne, to sell ‘the 
bedding etc. of immigrants released from quarantine from ships not infected by 
disease’ and, after considering all the evidence, the Colonial Treasurer was ‘inclined 
to believe his statement’. Perhaps even more significant was the discovery that the 
bedding could not be considered to be government property, since the British 
Land and Emigration Commissioners had authorised surgeon-superintendents to 
give each immigrant his or her bedding at the end of the voyage as a reward for 
good behaviour. The charges against Carroll were waived on the understanding 
that there was to be no repeat performance, but no instructions were given about 
CarroU’s method of keeping his stock-book, which the Commissioners criticised 
so severely in 1881.^^ 

While quarantines involved immigrants detained for relatively short periods 
during which ships’ surgeons continued to care for their welfare, any deficiencies 
in the management of the Station attracted little public attention. The decision in 
1881 to use the Station for the quarantine of large numbers of Sydney residents 
during a major smallpox epidemic exposed all the weaknesses in its management 
to a highly critical public audience, particularly the staff of the Sydney press. 

The Smallpox Epidemic and the Royal Commission into the 
Management of the Station 1881-82 

Between May 1881 and March 1882, an epidemic of smallpox occurred in Sydney 
during which 154 people were infected, of whom 40 died. By comparison with 
earlier epidemics in Sydney, such as the scarlet fever epidemic in 1875-6 when an 
estimated 8-10 000 are believed to have been infected and 575 people died, the 
smallpox epidemic was not particularly severe. But public criticism of the 
government’s attempts to control the disease was much greater than in any earlier 
epidemic, and the actions taken to allay this criticism mark an important stage in 
the history of the Station and of public health administration in New South Wales.“ 

Much of the criticism arose over the quarantine of Sydney residents at the 
Station. In the period from 16 June 1881 to 17 November 1881, 39 smallpox 
cases (at least three of whom were incorrectly diagnosed) and 65 contacts were 
taken from their Sydney homes to the Station, where 14 people died.“ Such a 
relatively large-scale movement of people required facilities and an administrative 

A ‘Rough Place’ 1860-81 


organisation which did not exist, attracting the foUowing type of criticism: ‘There 
can be no question that the appearance of smallpox in Sydney not only found the 
authorities totally unprepared but also confused them to such a degree that they 
aided considerably in making things worse. To some extent they appear to have 
been misled by several of their subordinates, as the recent disclosures in connection 
with quarantine life at North Head abundantly testify, but the real source of the 
mischief is to be found in hasty and imperfect organisation’.” 

From early in the quarantine, reports were published about mistreatment of 
people sent to the Station. Women released from quarantine in early September 
complained that they were not supplied with adequate clothing. A policeman 
whose severe cold was incorrectly diagnosed as smallpox, described the hardships 
of his quarantine in a tent on the beach with only two blankets for his bed, a rough 
piece of cloth as a towel and no cooking utensils. Others told of smallpox cases 
who were towed in a leaking whaleboat across the harbour at night, of empty 
coffins left in full view of sick women and children, neglect of male patients on the 
hospital ship Faraway, shortages of medicines and of poor standards of care and 

Against a background of mounting public indignation and questions in 
parliament, a Royal Commission was established on 13 September 1881, ‘to make 
a full, diligent and searching inquiry into the management of the establishment 
known as the Quarantine Station at North head and the Hulk Faraway’. On 20 
December 1881 the Commissioners were also requested ‘to inquire into and report 
upon the general management of the Quarantine Station from 1 January 1876 to 
1 June 1881’.” 

The events which led to the appointment of the Royal Commission began on 
15 June 1881, when it was reported that a Surry Hills resident, Edward Rout, was 
dangerously ill with smallpox and at least three other people were showing symptoms 
of the disease. What had appeared on 25 May to be an isolated case, when a Chinese 
child was reported to be infected with smaUpox, was now revealed as the forerunner 
of a potentially severe epidemic.^® 

On the instructions of the Colonial Treasurer, a meeting was called on 16 June 
to decide on the course of action. Since Dr Alleyne, was absent on sick leave. Dr 
W. H. Goode attended the meeting in his place. At the meeting it was agreed to 
adopt the procedure which had apparently been successful in containing the minor 
outbreak of smallpox in 1876-7, of removing smallpox cases and contacts from 
their homes to the Station. Since there were no ambulances, the purchase was 
approved of a horse-drawn omnibus to transport quarantined people to Cowper’s 
wharf, Woolloomooloo, from whence they would be ferried to the Station on the 
steamer Pinafore. In preparation for their arrival, provisions, clothing, bedding and 
tents for 50 people, and three baths, were immediately sent to Carroll.^* 


In Quarantine 

At that time, William Walsh was on board the Faraway in medical charge of a smallpox 
case and three contacts, all Chinese members of the crew of the Brisbane. It was decided 
that they should be removed and housed together in tents on shore so that Walsh could 
take charge of any male smallpox cases sent to the Faraway from Sydney. 

The difficult task of persuading two Sydney doctors to care for women and 
children in the hospital on shore and people on the Healthy Ground who had 
been in contact with the disease was resolved by co-opting the services of the two 
doctors who had attended the Rout family, Drs S. M. Cafiyn and M. J. Clune. 
Despite their strong protestations, they were ordered to go to the Station, in police 
custody if necessary, where their feelings of anger and frustration affected much of 
their behaviour until they were replaced in mid-August.^^ 

The task of supervising the movement of people to the Station was given to the 
Sydney Pohce Force, and a police sergeant and twelve constables were sent to the 
Station to guard the boundary lines. In time, the policemen acquired other duties, 
such as apportioning fresh meat which was then placed on a large rock for later 
collection by the quarantined people, and assisting with burials both of people 
who died at the Station, and of others whose bodies were sent from Sydney for 
burial in the first weeks of the epidemic.^^ 

Following the meeting on 16 June, events moved swiftly. During the afternoon. 
Dr Goode visited the Station to inform Carroll of the arrangements, and by 1 1 
p.m. 26 people had been assembled on Cowper’s wharf, where they were joined 
by the reluctant doctors for the dark, cold journey across the harbour. Included in 
the group were the newly widowed Mrs. Rout and her children, and three 
grave-diggers, whom a Sydney undertaker had induced with promises of 9d. worth 
of rum and bottles of brandy to take Edward Rout’s body to the Station for burial. 
On the voyage across the harbour, the grave-diggers sat on Rout’s coffin in a 
whaleboat which was towed behind the Pinafore. 

The late arrival of the Pinafore at the Station apparently took Carroll by surprise. 
After a delay of nearly two hours, during which the grave-diggers and the crew 
argued in Mrs. Rout’s presence about whose responsibility it was to carry Rout’s 
coffin up the slopes to the Burial Ground, Carroll finally appeared and led the 
anxious group to the hospital enclosure, where each person was allocated an iron 
bed, a mattress, two blankets and a pillow but no bed linen. Rout was buried in 
the Second Burial Ground at about 4 a.m. by the grave-diggers, under the 
supervision of one of the constables sent to guard the boundary lines. 

On the following day Alleyne returned early from sick leave and immediately 
visited the Station where a further three smallpox cases and seven contacts had 
been taken. He found sick and healthy people grouped together in the Hospital 
Enclosure and ordered their separation. Sick women and children remained in the 
hospital under the care of Dr Clune and a nurse sent to the Station with medical 

A ‘Rough Place’ 1860-81 


supplies and equipment by the Nursing Superintendent of Sydney Hospital, Lucy 
Osburn. Soon after a second nurse was sent from Sydney Hospital. 

Male smallpox cases were placed under on board the Faraway under the care of 
Walsh, whose lack of medical qualifications was described earlier. Contacts were 
housed on the Healthy Ground under the care of Dr Cafiyn.With the exception 
of two families, whose social standing seems to have entitled them to accommodation 
in the buildings erected for first-class passengers, all others were housed in the old 
buildings where there was no privacy and few comforts. 

Under the organisation which operated until mid-August 1881, smallpox cases 
and their contacts were collected by police constables and taken to Cowper s wharf 
in the horse-drawn omnibus, in which it was impossible for sick people to lie 
comfortably. They were then escorted to the Station by Dr. Spencer, who was 
stationed for several weeks on the Pinafore. During this time at least four smallpox 
cases were placed in a whaleboat to avoid contact with other people on the Pinafore, 
and towed across the harbour with only a blanket as a protection from sea-spray 
and weather.^* 

Until public outcry forced a change to daylight hours, many people were moved 
from their homes under cover of darkness to lessen the risk of spreading the disease 
and to avoid alarming Sydney residents. Given the stressful circumstances under 
which people arrived at the Station, it was not surprising that most were inclined 
to criticise every aspect of quarantined life. In the opinion of the Royal 
Commissioners, many of their complaints were frivolous, made by people who 
were dissatisfied about their removal from their homes and in a mood to be captious 
and fault-finding. There were, however, many genuine grounds for complaint. 

On arrival, sick women and children were taken to the boundary of the hospital 
enclosure, where they sometimes lay for some time until carried inside. The task of 
storing empty coffins in the ‘dead house’ had been given to one of the grave- 
diggers, G. Livesey, who was also employed as Dr Clone’s servant. On a number of 
occasions, Livesey left the coffins at the entrance to the hospital enclosure for some 
considerable time, where they could be seen by the hospital patients and others.^* 

Within the hospital, which was divided by a cracked partition into two wards, 
the two nurses cared for the sick women and children as best they could. Dr 
Clone’s medical attention was largely confined to looking at his patients from time 
to time through the hospital windows and ordering the use of carbolic sprays and 
linseed oil poultices. Claims were made both by Carroll and Nurse Mary Meyler 
that Clone was affected by alcohol on occasions, which he denied. Evidence suggests 
that he remained mostly in a state of great agitation and depression, devoting 
much of his time to writing telegrams to enlist aid for his release fix>m quarantine, 
some of which Carroll refused to send because he considered that they contravened 
instructions. Describing dune’s performance. Nurse Meyler told the Royal 


In Quarantine 

Commissioners that ‘if medical skill could have done them [the patients] any good, 
they certainly did not get it’ 7’ 

Throughout the quarantine, Alleyne frequently visited the Station but rarely 
spoke directly to the medical staff. Mostly he used the telegraph system which was 
installed in late June, or relied on Carroll, whom he met on Little Collins Beach, 
to relay messages to the doctors. At no stage did he inspect conditions on the 
Faraway, judging the risk of carrying infection back to Sydney too great. 

On board the Faraway, the extent of the neglect of male smallpox patients was 
described in the Royal Commissioners’ Report as follows: 

Some of the patients on board this ship appear to have been left without 
nursing; to have been allowed to wander and injure themselves at night 
and even to go on deck in a naked state in their delirium; to lie for days 
in their evacuations; to be without medical comforts and indeed without 
any food, except such as was prepared for them by the voluntary and 
unskilled efforts of the convalescent patients - in short to have been 
without any of the comforts, attendance or care which should have 
been accorded, to sick people.^* 

Claims were made that Walsh was affected with alcohol on occasions. Evidence 
suggests that he was resentful about his lack of assistance and delays in receiving 
supplies. Possibly he felt that his advanced age and lack of formal medical 
qualifications had forced on him jobs which other people would not accept. His 
reported statements suggest that he saw himself as much a victim of circumstances 
as his patients, for whose welfare he felt little concern. 

Evidence given by E.Verdich demonstrated how little care the male smallpox 
cases received. On arriving on board after a night voyage across the harbour in the 
whaleboat towed behind the Pinafore,Verdich was told by Walsh that he was in ‘a 
rough place... we have no conveniences of any kind and I am just as badly off as you 
are’. Walsh gave him a cup of tea, some bread and butter which he could not 
swallow, and some medicine which he was told to take every four hours. During 
the next two nights he lay delirious without any attention; during the day he was 
occasionally visited by Walsh who gave him some tea and half-cooked rice. 

Verdich had arrived without any change of clothing on the instructions of the 
constable who took him to Cowper’s wharf. But from 10 July until about 10 
August he was not given any other clothing and his only towel was ‘an old rag, 
greasy from the table’. Clothing was only supplied after he agreed to Walsh’s request 
that he place John Harris’ body in a coffin on 7 August.^’ 

Verdich’s evidence also provided some insight into the pitiful last days of John 
Harris, 22, and George Dougherty, 73. Both men mostly lay helpless in their 
soiled beds, sometimes wandering naked and semi-delirious up to the top deck at 

A ‘Rough Place’ 1860-81 


night in search of the toilet closets. At one stage Walsh barricaded them below 
with an ice chest; on another occasion when Dougherty returned repeatedly to 
gaze at Harris’ coffin, which remained on board for nearly 24 hours, Walsh 
threatened to tie him to his bed.^“ 

Racist attitudes were apparent throughout much of the Station’s history, but 
never more so than in the treatment of Chinese people during the smallpox 
epidemic. Resentment of these diligent immigrants, which had simmered since 
the explosive events of the gold rush years, were reignited by the belief that smallpox, 
and perhaps leprosy, had been introduced into the community by these ‘foreigners’, 
with their different behaviour patterns and cultural beliefs. 

Newspapers reported the rounding up of Chinese smallpox cases and contacts, 
describing how one smallpox case was poked with long poles until he fled firom his 
home and was taken under police custody to the Station. An article in the Sydney 
Mail on 9 July described approvingly how two police inspectors had whipped 
Chinese market gardeners at the Sydney suburb of DruittTown, until they divulged 
the location of ‘a sick Chinaman’. On board the Faraway, Walsh’s treatment of five 
Chinese men was utterly negligent. The smallpox case was not separated firom his 
four contacts; they were not given beds and had to lie on the floor; they had no 
medical treatment and were given only the poorest of rations. In giving evidence 
to the Commissioners, John Hughes claimed that ‘the five Chinamen started up 
and threatened to kill [Walsh]’. Probably what he witnessed was a desperate attempt 
to get proper food and medical attention. On shore, Chinese contacts fared better, 
but were kept segregated in tents under the supervision of a police constable.^' 

Considerable pubUc sympathy was expressed for John Hughes who was placed 
in leg irons for five days on the Faraway, after twice swimming to shore to see his 
wife and children. In the opinion of the Commissioners, however, Hughes’ 
confinement for his ‘reckless and insubordinate’ actions was entirely justifiable in 
order to maintain discipline. 

Hughes’ wife and children were quarantined on the Healthy Ground and his 
wife frequently brought the children to Quarantine Beach to wave to their father, 
and as the tide swung the Faraway towards the shore, Hughes and his wdfe could 
communicate by shouting to each other. When Hughes learned that his six-month- 
old daughter, Maude, who had been vaccinated while in quarantine, was dying he 
asked permission to visit her. When he was refused, he swam to shore with the aid 
of a plank on two occasions. On the second occasion. Dr Caflyn allowed Hughes 
to see his children on the Healthy Ground, from a distance of about 3 yards and 
after placing a large onion between them. 

Carroll immediately informed Alleyne of the breach of quarantine. Shortly 
afterwards, instructions were telegraphed to Senior Constable Sullivan over the 
joint signatures of Alleyne and the Inspector-General of Pohce, that Hughes was to 


In Quarantine 

be placed in leg irons and returned to the Faraway. He was arrested, placed in 
handcuffs and leg irons, and taken back to the hospital ship where the handcuffs 
were removed. That night Hughes sawed through the leg irons but, on being 
threatened with the use of ‘madman’s muffs’, he agreed to remain in them for a 
further four days. During this time he cooked meals at Walsh’s request, and seemed 
to accept his punishment quite philosophically. All except thirteen days of his quarantine, 
which began on 17 June and ended on 17 September, were spent onboard the Faraway.*^ 

Throughout the quarantine, Carroll exercised considerable authority both as 
Alleyne’s spokesman and the officer in charge of stores. He claimed that he worked 
from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. to cope with his many duties, and his attitude towards 
complaints from quarantined people, particularly Drs Caffyn and Clune, was 
generally unsympathetic. Commenting that Carroll had refused requests for many 
items in store, disregarding his instructions ‘to treat the people at the Station with 
the greatest liberality’, the Commissioners criticised his poor stock-book records 
and went on to report that: ‘Mr Carroll. . . had duties imposed upon him altogether 
beyond his capacity. We give him credit for having been actuated by a zealous 
desire to economise the stores entrusted to his care, but his defective education, his 
brusque manner, and his want of consideration for the residents at the Quarantine 
Station show that he is quite unsuited for the position he occupied.’^^ 

Giving evidence. Dr L. Foucart, Assistant Health Officer, stated that Carroll was 
always attentive to his duties, always sober and invariably at his post; concerning 
complaints about ‘niggardliness and stinginess in dealing out the stores’, Foucart 
commented ‘that is his peculiarity, saving the government property as much as he 
can’. Other evidence, however, suggests that Carroll’s niggardliness was sometimes 
a form of power play, in which he issued or withheld stores to quarantined people 
as a form of reward or punishment for their attitudes and behaviour. His reported 
words to Walsh were particularly revealing: ‘If you be a good boy, I will bring you 
a bottle of brandy tomorrow’. 

In deploring the neglect on board the Faraway, the Commissioners obviously 
felt some reluctance to criticise Dr Alleyne.They expressed regret that he had not 
had personal communication with the medical staff, but found it impossible to 
believe that the true state of matters on board could have been reported to Alleyne 
by Carroll who, they considered, must have known of the patients’ neglect. They 
also regretted that Dr Clune had not performed his medical and other duties in the 
Hospital Enclosure, possibly because of his ‘great mental depression’. 

In concluding their report, the Commissioners strongly condemned the failure 
to make earlier provision for the proper treatment of the patients sent to the Faraway, 
but found themselves unable to endorse the sweeping charges of neglect and 
mismanagement. They conceded that some of the early steps and appointments 
had been ill-judged, but stated that these had been remedied by the prompt and 

A ‘Rough Place’ 1860-81 


vigorous action since taken by the authorities, which had resulted in the 
reorganisation of the Station on a satisfactory basis/® 

This ‘prompt and vigorous action’ had begun in mid-August, and included the 
appointment on 18 July 1881 of an interim Board of Health to act an advisory 
body for the control of the epidemic. An Ambulance Corps was formed on 12 
July, and the omnibus was replaced by a specially designed ambulance. In early 
September, a ‘Sanatory Camp’ was set up at Little Bay for contacts, and in September 
work began at Litde Bay on buildings for the Coast Hospital (later renamed Prince 
Henry Hospital), Sydney’s first infectious diseases hospital. 

From mid-September, no further smallpox cases or contacts were sent to the 
Station, and when the Coast Hospital opened in late December all smallpox cases 
were transferred there. Successively from nlid-March, Drs R. Beattie, Day and Foucart 
replaced Walsh, Clune and Caffyn. On 6 September, Dr J. A. Beattie was appointed 
resident Medical Superintendent of the Station, holding office until he was appointed 
Medical Superintendent of the Coast Hospital on 24 November 1882. 

On 7 September, Carroll was suspended from duties and Police Sergeant Logan 
was appointed Acting Superintendent. Carroll’s son was dismissed from his position 
as caretaker of the Faraway. Soon afterwards Carroll resigned as Superintendent 
and seems to have been employed briefly as the gate keeper at the Coast Hospital.^® 
By the time Dr Beattie, the new Medical Superintendent, was called before the 
Commissioners on 3 November 1881, he was able to report that all the main areas 
of complaint about the Station had been dealt with. One of these had been the 
offensive state of the second Burial Ground located behind the houses on the 
Healthy Ground. On Dr Foucart ’s initiative, the area was covered with lime and 
banked over with clay and a new site for a new burial ground was chosen some 
distance away. 

The third Burial Ground was first used for the burial of Selina Elliott, 44 years 
of age, who died on 12 September 1881 and last used on 17 August 1925 for the 
burial ofSamain, one of the crew of the Tasman. Until September 1881, no services 
had been held at the time of burial. On Dr Beattie’s instructions, burial services 
were conducted from that time and attended by as many staff as possible. 

Throughout the epidemic in Sydney, the Station continued to operate as a 
maritime quarantine station. By proclamation on 17 June 1881, all ships arriving 
from China, Hong kong or other eastern ports were detained at the Station until 
cleared by the Health Officer. On 8 January 1882, the Garonne arrived with 
several cases of smallpox on board and became the first ship to be quarantined by 
the Station’s new management. A week earlier a Board of Health had been appointed 
as a statutory body with responsibilities which included quarantine, and a new era 
began in the history of the Station, in which there was closer supervision of 
procedures and greater accountability for the actions of staff. 




Control by the Board of Health 

An important outcome of the 1881 smallpox epidemic was recognition of the 
need for a central body to supervise the administration of public health legislation. 
By that time the work of a number of scientists in the field of bacteriology had 
brought some understanding of the nature of infectious diseases. The contemporary 
view, on which was based much of the proceedings of the first Australasian Sanitary 
Conference in 1884, was that two things combined to cause an infectious disease, 
‘the contagion or seed, which is the external or exciting cause, and such a state of 
[the] body as renders it a fit ground for that seed to grow in, which is the predisposing 
or internal cause’. In the opinion of the conference delegates, quarantine measures 
could deal reasonably successfully with the external cause of infection, but the 
internal cause (a condition of personal or local susceptibility) could only be dealt 
with by improved sanitary measures.’ Experience in Britain had already shown 
that the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhus fever, typhoid fever, yellow fever 
and smallpox, could be prevented by ‘good drainage and scavenge’. It seemed 
essential, therefore, to adopt improved sanitary measures throughout Australia, which 
could be enforced by public health legislation.^ 

The living conditions of most of Sydney’s 224 211 citizens were recognised as 
breeding grounds for disease. More than two-thirds of dwelling places were not 
connected with a sewer and cesspools abounded in every direction. Typhoid fever 
was endemic, many deaths were said to be caused by diarrhoea and cholera, and 
infant mortality rates, averaged over the five-year period 1876-80, were estimated 
to be 169.6 per 1 000 living.^ 

The task of improving these conditions was given to the new Board of Health, 
which was appointed on 6 January 1882, under the terms of the Infectious Disease 
Supervision Act passed on 21 December 1881. The main duties of the Board were 
to enforce the Infectious Disease Supervision Act which made compulsory the 
notification of any case of smallpox, together with the Quarantine Act of 1832 and 
its amendments, and all other public health legislation. Included amongst the 
establishments which came under the Board’s control, were the Quarantine Station 
and the newly erected Coast Hospital.^ 

The Board of Health and the existing Medical Department formed two separate 

Under New Management 


branches within the New South ^Jl/ales Department of Public Health. Until 1904 
when public health administration was transferred to the Chief Secretary’s portfolio, 
the Board of Health functioned within the Treasurer’s Department and the Medical 
Department within the Chief Secretary’s Department. Both branches were 
responsible to the same official head, however, who was successively Dr C. K. 
MacKellar (1882-85), Dr H. N. MacLaurin (1885-89), Dr F. Norton Manning 
(1889-1892) and Professor T. P. Anderson Stuart (1893-1896). From 1897 a Civil 
Servant was appointed as the permanent Head of Department. Membership of the 
Board of Health was heavily weighted with a number of prominent Sydney doctors 
who espoused sanitary reform, and included the Health Officer of Port Jackson as 
an ex-officio member.® 

The first maritime quarantine supervised by the new Board began with the 
arrival of SS Garonne on 8 January 1882 with smallpox on board. By then all 
people quarantined during the 1881 smallpox epidemic had either been released 
or transferred to the Coast Hospital. An inspection of the Station on 9 January 
satisfied the Board that healthy passengers could be landed at Collins Beach and 
taken to the Healthy Ground, where there was accommodation for 70 steerage or 
third-class passengers in ‘the immigrants’ quarters’ and 40 first- or second-class 
passengers in the Cabin Enclosure. 

The Board’s detailed instructions for the conduct of the quarantine made it 
clear that it intended to exercise tight control over procedures. Before unloading 
began, the ship’s hold had to be fumigated by burning sulphur for twelve hours, 
and the lighters which took the cargo had to be fended off with spars to a distance 
of at least fifteen feet. Contacts were quarantined for 24 days from the isolation of 
the last case of smallpox, bedding was destroyed, clothes washed and boiled and 
mail was fumigated with sulphuric acid at high temperature. By mid-1883, a new 
Fraser’s Patent Disinfecting Apparatus had been installed.® 

Until 1884 the newly erected Coast Hospital was used as an adjunct to the 
Quarantine Station, and smallpox cases landed from quarantined vessels, who would 
formerly have remained in the Station’s hospital, were transferred there.^ This 
change in policy gave rise to a complaint by Sir Arthur Gordon, High Commissioner 
for Fiji, during the quarantine of SS Gunga, which was tabled in parliament in 

On the vessel’s arrival from Fiji on 26 August 1882, Gordon’s Fijian servant, 
Soani, was diagnosed as a smallpox case by Dr J. A. Beattie, who immediately 
ordered his transfer to the Coast Hospital. Beattie’s diagnosis was disputed by 
Gordon, who insisted that Soani had chickenpox, and feared that the Fijian would 
regard the Coast Hospital as a house of death, and might therefore die there whether 
or not he was seriously ill. Gordon’s objections were overruled, however, and 
Soani was sent to the Coast Hospital, although not alone. Gordon’s Aide, Major 


In Quarantine 

Knollys, had requested permission to accompany him as a friend, but had been 
refused. Knollys ignored the refusal, and when Dr Beattie was faced with Knollys’ 
unauthorised presence on the quarantine launch which took Soani to the Rose 
Bay jetty, he decided that it would be ‘injudicious to interfere’.® 

Dr Beattie, in defending himself against Gordon’s claims of wrong diagnosis and 
mismanagement, commented that the Station was in a transitional stage, and 
conceded that some minute details might have been overlooked because of 
inexperience.’ This transitional stage lasted until 23 June 1884 when James Fordyce 
Vincent was appointed Overseer of Stores and Superintendent of the Station, 
taking over from the police sergeant who had replaced John Carroll as acting 
superintendent in September 1881. By 1884 the nine following positions were 
shown on the Station’s establishment: the Overseer of Stores and Superintendent 
(£192 p.a.), five Quarantine officers (each at £108 p.a.), a wardsman in charge of 
the Sick Enclosure (£120 p.a.), the Coxswain of the Steam Launch (£108 p.a.), 
and the Engineer of the Steam Launch (£120 p.a.). In addition to wages as shown, 
staff were provided with accommodation at the Station, fuel, light and uniforms. 

In January 1891, C. E. Cornelius was appointed Assistant Storekeeper at a salary 
of £150 per annum, and at the same time Vincent’s salary was increased to £290 
p.a. in recognition of his good work. In 1897 Bessie Hawkins, who had been 
employed on a temporary basis since 1877, was appointed as Forewoman at a 
salary of £75 IO 5 . 5d. Temporary staff were appointed as required to act as nurses, 
wardsmen, laundresses, servants and nightsoil attendants.'® 

On 19 July 1882 Dr Charles K. Mackellar, MB, ChM, (Glasgow), 37, replaced 
Dr H. G. Alleyne as Health Officer of Port Jackson, holding office until 31 August 
1885 when he resigned to become a member of the Legislative Council.Thereafter 
the link between the Health Officer and the Station was broken, and the task of 
supervising the Station became the responsibility of the Principal Medical Inspector 
of the Board of Health. 

Mackellar, who had been practising medicine in New South Wales for ten years, 
was a firm advocate of the need both for sanitary reform and for the adoption by 
the Australian colonies of a co-ordinated federal approach to quarantine. In his 
various roles as Health Officer, President of the Board of Health, and Medical 
Adviser to the New South Wales government, he played a major part in quarantine 
policies and procedures, and the future development of the Station.** 

Developments at the Station 

When Mackellar took over from Alleyne, he found many aspects of the Station 
unsatisfactory. Of the two hospital buildings, one was ‘lamentably deficient .There 
was no road from the wharf to the Hospital Enclosure which was approached up 

Under New NIanagement 


a dangerously steep, rugged bank. On the Healthy Ground, the six buildings known 
as the immigrants’ quarters, which could accommodate up to 134 second- and 
third-class passengers, were merely large open wards without partitions to provide 
any form of privacy. The storehouses were falling down, the cookhouses were 
‘worthless’ and the Faraway needed a thorough overhaul.*^ 

By then the quarantine ground had been reduced by a grant of 60 acres to the 
Roman Catholic Church, which had been finally deeded to the church in 1879 
for the erection of an episcopal residence and seminary. The Station’s boundaries 
were not clearly defined and there was trespassing both into and out of the quarantine 
grounds. In Mackellar’s opinion, the Station needed new buildings, better washing 
and disinfecting facilities, new roads and fencing, and a caretaker’s cottage between 
the Station and Manly.” 

Action to remedy the Station’s deficiencies was not immediately taken, however, 
until some basic issues had been settled. In Britain, quarantine had been officially 
abandoned in 1873. Instead, when ships were suspected of carrying cholera, plague 
or yellow fever a medical inspector checked all on board, and people who showed 
symptoms of any of these diseases were removed to a hospital. Contacts were 
released but kept under medical surveillance. In Australia, where the detention of 
a steamship could cost from to ;C300 per day (apart from loss of freights, 

markets, interest and the possible deterioration of cargoes through cleansing 
processes), shipping agents and owners could see httle reason why Australian colonies 
did not follow the British example.” 

In mid-1882, a deputation of all the great ocean steamship companies trading 
with Australia had called on the Treasurer seeking ways to lessen quarantine 
restrictions in Port Jackson. One outcome had been the stationing of a resident 
Assistant Health Officer at Watsons Bay to lessen delays in boarding a newly arrived 
overseas vessel. On 9 August 1882, the Steamship Owners’ Association followed 
up their approach with a letter making eight further suggestions. Included were 
requests for Asiatic accommodation at the Station, better supplies of water, the 
provision of a steam launch for taking provisions to quarantined vessels, and printed 
instructions for the guidance of captains of quarantined vessels.” 

On 16 and 25 August 1882, the Under-Secretary for Finance and Trade, G. 
Eagar, requested Mackellar to report on (a) the state and condition of the Station, 
with suggestions for improvement where desirable or necessary; (b) the propriety 
of relaxing or otherwise modifying the present Quarantine Regulations; (c) the 
proposed alternative site for the Station at Pittwater and (d) the Report of the 
London Health Officer in which he made a case against strict quarantine measures.” 

Mackellar’s report on 6 April 1 883 provided a blueprint for the Station’s future 
development. He recommended against re-siting the Station on the grounds that 
any further distance from Sydney would cause administrative problems. He advised 


In Quarantine 

the maintenance and strict administration of quarantine legislation and urged the 
desirability of seeking the co-operation of the other Australian colonies in 
establishing ‘a sort of Federal Quarantine’, with outpost quarantine stations, possibly 
at Thursday Island on the north and King George’s Sound on the west, so that 
vessels approaching the continent could immediately land cases of infectious disease 
and proceed after cleansing. 

For the Station, he recommended improved landing facilities, a steam launch, 
better roads, improved means of transport throughout the Station through the use 
of a light tram, the construction of a reservoir, improved cleansing facilities at the 
wharf in Spring Cove and better hospital and other accommodation. On the Healthy 
Ground, he proposed that paling fences be erected between groups of buildings to 
enable different classes of passengers to be segregated and so lessen the chance of 
spreading disease through the Station. 

The steamship owners’ request for Asiatic accommodation was not regarded as 
a matter of urgency and ad hoc arrangements continued to be made for Asiatic 
crews and passengers, whose comfort received scant consideration. When the 
Memnuir was quarantined in 1883 with a large number of Chinese immigrants on 
board, 90 smallpox contacts were placed on board the hospital ship. Faraway, and 
at least one smallpox case was taken to the Coast Hospital. 

Most of Mackellar’s proposals were immediately approved, although plans for 
the tramway were deferred because of costs. An amount o( 000 was 
appropriated in the Consolidated Revenue Fund for 1883 for ‘the construction of 
Reservoir and other improvements’.*® By 1886 new roads, fences, and a reservoir 
with a storage capacity of 800 000 gallons had been constructed. Adjoining the 
concrete pier on Quarantine Beach, a ‘box store’ had been erected to hold luggage, 
and a steam laundry had been equipped with 26 coppers for boiling clothes and 52 
cement washtubs (all connected to hot and cold water and steam), together with a 
‘hot-air room’ for articles which could not be washed. Additionally 2 units of 
Fraser’s Disinfecting Apparatus had been installed in a Fumigating Room, and a 
place had been allocated for dispensing medicines. 

Also by 1886, a new ward had been erected in the Hospital Enclosure and one 
of the existing wards had been extended. A mortuary had also been erected, the 
doctor’s house replaced, and improvements made to the nurses’ quarters. On the 
Healthy Ground, improvements in the accommodation in the Cabin Enclosure 
for first-and second-class passengers included the erection of a new building with 
19 bedrooms, and provision of additional staff accommodation including a doctors 
house. In the third class accommodation area, a new building, partitioned into 
bedrooms, had replaced two of the old buildings and raised wooden platforms had 
been erected for tents used to provide additional accommodation. The steam launch 
Lorna Doom had been purchased and an additional horse and cart acquired.*® 

Under New Management 


On Mackellar s resignation in 1885, responsibility for the Station was transferred 
to the Board of Health’s Chief Medical Inspector, Dr J. Ashburton Thompson, 
MD(Brux.), Diploma in Public Health (Cantab.). Under his supervision, additional 
bathrooms and staff quarters were erected in the next few years, more horses were 
purchased for the use of mounted police sent to guard the boundaries, night 
soilcarts were acquired, work began on a road to Manly, a Lyons Patent Steam 
Disinfector was ordered and telephones were installed.^® 

By 1889 Thompson was able to claim that immigrant ships carrying 600 
passengers had been cleaned, disinfected, washed and adrmtted to pratique within 
36 hours of arrival at the Station, which he described in the following terms: 

Six hundred and seventy acres are enclosed by a fence. Permanent staff 
number a Superintendent and seven men, expanded on occasion by 
temporary aid. Communication with the Health Department is by 
telephone and telegraph whenever the yellow flag is flying. There is 
accommodation in wooden houses on stone foundations for about 300 
persons in several enclosures and this is extensible by erection of 
marquees, for which permanent platforms are provided. The hospital 
enclosure accommodates about sixty, and there is a hospital ship which, 
in two-deck pavilions, carries thirty beds. Water is derived from neutral 
ground and is conducted by suitable races to a reservoir holding a million 
gallons, whence it is distributed to every part of the establishment by 
gravitation.The laundry is supplied with steam firom a forty horse-power 
boiler. The disinfector is an old Fraser’s hot air apparatus and these, 
with the stores and offices, stand at the quay. For communication with 
ships or the city, a steam launch especially fitted to carry the sick is 

In 1892 the deteriorating condition of the hospital ship Faraway was made 
evident during the quarantine of RMS Oroya, which was quarantined firom 20 
June to 12 July 1892 because of smallpox. On 29 June the ship’s quartermaster 
Albert Blake died on board the Faraway, and on 1 July, May Taylor, 5, who had 
been released with her family from quarantine, was brought back firom her home 
in Glebe to the Faraway infected with smallpox. On 16 July three other Sydney 
residents who had been in contact with the child also developed smallpox and 
were quarantined on the hospital ship. 

The quarantine revived interest in a proposal put forward in 1887 by the President 
of the Board of Health that another hospital be built on shore. A recommendation 
firom the Board of Health for the erection of a new hospital at a cost of ^2 000 
was approved in 1893, and in 1894 a tender was accepted ‘for the erection of a 
shore hospital for 575 10s. 2d. By May 1895 a new two-ward hospital had 


In Quarantine 

been erected on the Sick Ground, apparently replacing the building which had 
been extended in 1885. In 1894 the sale of the Faraway was approved. 

In 1897, plans were approved to erect a rubble boundary wall seven to eight feet 
high with watch towers. Also, ^{jl 000 was appropriated to install a sewerage system, 
but plans to link this to the Metropohtan Board ofWater Supply and Sewerage System 
did not eventuate and the sewerage system, completed in 1901, discharged raw effluent 
into the sea until the late 1950s when a clorination plant was installed. 

In December 1898 plans were approved for the erection of Asiatic dormitories 
on the Healthy Ground, with bunks for up to 60 people and bathrooms at each 
end (each containing nine showers). When the building was finally erected in 
1902, it was furnished with a log table and some stools, with rice boilers in the 
adjacent open-style kitchen. In mid-1905 special latrines were erected nearby. But 
even in its pristine condition, the Asiatic dormitories provided the most basic form 
of accommodation. Later, in 1933 when the dormitories were quite decrepit, they 
were still considered suitable for Asians who, according to the Chief Quarantine 
Officer, could ‘be herded together without complaint’. “ Additional work in the 
late 1890’s included the erection of a telephone office, a cool store, new bathrooms 
below the buildings in the Cabin Enclosure and the addition of a drawing room 
and smoking room. 

A Treasure Trove 

On 29 January 1946, 60 gold sovereigns were found hidden in a recess on top of 
the foundations of building P9 in the Cabin Enclosure by a building inspector 
who had cut a hole in the floor to inspect the foundations. The position in which 
the sovereigns, on which the latest date was 1894, were found made it clear that 
they could only have been placed there during construction work. At the inquisition 
by the City Coroner into the finding of the ‘treasure trove’, George Ashton, Foreman 
Assistant in charge of the Station, stated that Block P9 had been erected in 1876 and 
added to in 1898; saloon passengers fiom 100 vessels had been accommodated in the 
saloon quarters since 1894, but there was no record of any report of the loss or theft of 
60 sovereigns. Accordingly the sovereigns were handed over to the State Treasurer. 

The most likely scenario for the failure to reclaim what was then a very substantial 
amount of money, is that it was placed there for safekeeping by some person who 
subsequently became ill and died during a quarantine. The Station’s records of 
deaths and contemporary newspaper reports point to one of two passengers on the 
Orizaba, quarantined because of smallpox in May 1898, as the possible owner, 
either Sydney Burrows, 28, who died from pneumonia or Edmund Thurlow, 33, 
who died from smallpox. Of the two, the most likely seems to be Thurlow, who 
was travelling from London to Brisbane with his wife and 3 small children. 

Under New Management 


Thurlow and his wife had been vaccinated in their infancy and had refused to 
be revaccinated, although they agreed to the vaccination of their children on arrival 
at the Station. On 12 May, twelve days after landing, Thurlow showed the 
characteristic rash which quickly changed to the disfiguring pustules. He was 
immediately isolated and taken to the Station’s hospital where he died on 26 
May.“ Before he became ill, he would have had the opportunity to hide the 
sovereigns for safekeeping in the foundations of the building where work had 
been suspended for the duration of the quarantine. However, the sudden onset of 
the disease with its accompanying high fever, combined with strict isolation from 
his family, would have given him no opportunity to divulge the location of the 

The brief official entries which record deaths at the Station, give no hint of the 
trauma suffered by infected people and their relatives and friends during a quarantine. 
The infected person, like some type of untouchable, was immediately taken to the 
hospital, where he or she was isolated from any further contact with relatives and 
friends. Assuming that Thurlow was the owner of the sovereigns, the loss of the 
money would have been another aspect of the tragic situation with which his wife 
had to cope. 

A Federal Quarantine System 

Attempts to arrive at a uniform approach to quarantine on an international basis 
had been made at various conferences from 1851 onwards, the most recent being 
the International Medical Congress held in Washington in 1881 at which little 
common agreement emerged. In Australia, quarantine regulations had been adopted 
by various colonial governments, but the thoroughness with which they were 
enforced was variable and there was no agreement about what was necessary for 
the common good. In Mackellar’s opinion, all colonies showed a disposition to 
evade the duty of dealing with infected vessels, and a ship’s owner or agent frequently 
experienced great difficulty in obtaining proper accommodation for infected 
passengers and crew.^‘ 

On 3 August 1883, the New South Wales branch of the British Medical 
Association adopted a series of resolutions in which the New South Wales 
government was urged to initiate a conference of all Australasian colonies to 
consider and frame a system of quarantine conducted upon federal principles 
combining ‘efficiency, humanity and hospitality’. In response, the first 
Australasian Sanitary Conference was held in Sydney in September 1884, with 
Dr Mackellar as president of the conference and Dr J. Ashburton Thompson as 
secretary. All delegates were medically qualified and held senior appointments 
in public health administration. 


In Quarantine 

Quarantine was defined by the delegates as ‘such measures taken in regard to 
vessels coming to the various Australasian ports as will effectually protect the 
Australasian Colonies from the invasion of contagious or infectious disease, 
consistent with the least possible interference with the liberty of individuals and 
with the least possible restriction to commerce’. Adopting the view that quarantine 
should be regarded only a means to ‘the preservation of the Public Health in 
Australasia’, and that it was of value commensurate with its cost only to countries 
whose internal sanitation was good, the delegates recommended measures for 
preventing the spread of diseases under the headings of sanitation at home, sanitation 
on shipboard and sanitation abroad. One of the resolutions adopted at the 
Conference was that the Australasian colonies should adopt one Quarantine Bill, 
called the Federal Quarantine Act of Australasia. For the time being, however, the 
colonial governments were unwilling to implement the proposal.” 

No problems were seen, however, in adopting standard minimum quarantine 
periods for specific diseases; 21 days for unvaccinated smallpox contacts, 10 days 
for cholera contacts, 10 days (during which all cargo was to be exposed to the air) 
for yellow fever contacts, 21 days for typhus and relapsing fevers. In the case of 
typhoid and scarlet fevers, measles, diphtheria and other diseases which were 
endemic, each port’s Health Officer was advised to use his discretion about 
quarantine periods and measures.” 

The Quarantine of the Preussen, 1887 

Both the efficiency of the Station under the supervision of the Board of Health and 
the need for a co-ordinated federal quarantine system was demonstrated by the 
quarantine of the immigrant ship, Preussen, in 1887. Later, at an International Hygiene 
Congress in 1892, Dr Ashburton Thompson illustrated this efficiency by pointing out 
that of 432 people who were quarantined at the Station, although 79 developed smallpox, 
aU had become infected while on the ship and no one by contact at the Station.” 
The quarantine of North German Lloyd’s steamship Preussen began on 26 
December 1886. When the vessel sailed on 7 November 1886, she carried 123 
crew members, a few cabin passengers and 544 steerage passengers. All the steerage 
passengers, including 392 of British nationality, were embarked at Antwerp in 
Belgium at the shipowner’s expense - in the opinion of the president of the Board 
of Health, Dr MacLaurin, to prevent the vessel from becoming liable to the 
provisions of the Imperial Passengers Act of 1855 and 1863. There were only 
seven water closets for the use of over 500 people, discipline was bad and when the 
vessel arrived in quarantine, William Nickels, who was in charge of the disinfecting 
staff at the Station, reported that it was the dirtiest of any of the 46 vessels he had 
disinfected since taking up duties on 10 September 1883.” 

Under New Management 


On the voyage several cases of dysentery and diarrhoea occurred after leaving 
Aden, where passengers had been allowed to land. On 7 December John Pryce, 
24, was diagnosed as a smallpox case. When the ship arrived at Albany, Western 
Australia, on 15 December, the Health Officer decided to quarantine her in the 
outer harbour while she took on board coke and fresh water, and then permit the 
ship to proceed to other ports. On learning of this, MacLaurin immediately 
telegraphed the Health Officer suggesting that Pryce be landed and the ship 
disinfected, to which the Health Officer telegraphed back: ‘Thoroughly approve 
of the suggestion but no means; the other Colonies have not recognised the 
principles of Federal quarantine, consequently we are not prepared to act alone 

Pryce died when the ship arrived at Adelaide and was buried at sea.Twenty nine 
people were quarantined at Adelaide’s quarantine station and on reaching 
Melbourne, a further 260 people were quarantined there. When the ship arrived 
in Port Jackson she was immediately quarantined although there was no sign of 
infection. All passengers were landed and housed in separate parts of the Station 
after clothes and other effects had been washed. Steps were taken to cleanse the 
vessel and destroy bedding, and the crew were required to wash and disinfect their 
clothing.The first case of smallpox appeared on 27 December and within a matter 
of days 79 people were infected of whom thirteen died and at least one was blinded. 

Dr E. J. A. Haynes was placed in charge of the Faraway and DrT. M. Harding in 
charge of the shore hospital. Volunteer nurses were sent from the Coast Hospital 
and mounted police were sent from Sydney to guard the Station’s boundaries. It 
was a stressful quarantine for all concerned and, at its end, the Superintendent of 
Quarantine, James Vincent, was commended for his ‘utmost zeal and assiduity in 
carrying out very arduous and harassing duties’. 

In MacLaurin’s subsequent report to the New South Wales parliament, he stated 
that if the Health officer at Albany had not committed a calamitous error of judgment 
in failing to remove the sick man, a great part of the consequent disease would have 
been averted. He again urged the establishment of a system of federal quarantine.^^ 

Understandably, the presence of such a virulent disease at the Station caused 
great concern in nearby Manly, where residents petitioned unsuccessfully for the 
Station’s removal. For many years trespassers at North Head had caused problems 
during quarantines. During the quarantine, four fishermen were arrested and this, 
coming at a time when there were a number of workmen on the adjoining site of 
St. Patrick’s Ecclesiastical Seminary, prompted the Board of Health to request the 
government to re-define the Station’s boundaries. These were proclaimed on 4 
and 5 January 1887 (summarised as the waters of Spring Cove from Smedley’s 
Point to Green or Flagstaff Point and an area of land comprising 668 acres 3 roods 
and 14 perches bounded by the Roman Catholic Episcopal Residence, the waters 
of Port Jackson and the Pacific Ocean).” 


In Quarantine 

Throughout the 1890’s’ strong pressure continued from medical and other sources 
for improved public health administration. In November 1896 the Public Health 
Act was passed, which greatly strengthened the powers of the Board of Health 
while giving local municipal authorities certain powers and responsibilities for the 
control of infectious diseases. The need to review quarantine legislation was also 
recognised, and in 1897 a new Quarantine Act was passed which consolidated the 
amendments made to the original Act and removed inconsistencies.^^ Events, such 
as those surrounding the quarantine of the Preussen convinced the various 
governments of the need to legislate for some form of federal control, and when 
the Constitution Act was framed, the Commonwealth government which it created 
was given the power to administer quarantine. 

The Threat of Plague 

In the background to these developments was awareness that plague had begun to 
spread epidemically throughout the world and would soon reach Australia. A 
Quarantine Conference was held in Melbourne in 1896 which recommended 
that there should be uniformity in quarantine law and practice throughout 
Australasia. In April 1900 the Australian and Tasmanian Intercolonial Plague 
Conference was held in Melbourne to discuss the threat of plague, but the New 
South Wales delegate was unable to attend for the reason that there was an outbreak 
of plague in Sydney which ‘required the attention of the Officers of the Health 
Department’.^® The disease had arrived before agreement had been reached on 
measures to prevent its arrival. 

The outbreak, which began on 19 January 1900, came as no surprise to the 
Board of Health which had foreseen the possibility for some time. What caused 
the Board considerable surprise, however, was the government’s decision to use 
the Quarantine Station rather than the Coast Hospital for the quarantine of Sydney’s 
plague cases and their contacts. 




In 1893 bubonic plague, which had been endemic for many years in Yun Nan, a 
southern province of China, spread along caravan and river routes to Canton and 
Hong Kong where it was declared an epidemic in 1894. From there the disease 
was carried along sea routes by plague-infected rats, until it became a pandemic 
which caused the deaths of more than 10 million people.* 

In January 1900 plague reached Sydney where there were ten outbreaks between 
1900 and 1922, infecting 600 people and causing 196 deaths. During the first 
epidemic, which lasted from 19 January until 9 August 1900, 264 plague cases and 
1 832 contacts were quarantined at the Station; 104 people were buried in the 
Third Burial Ground, amongst whom were 48 people who died in Sydney and 
whose bodies were brought to the Station for burial.^ 

The New South Wales government’s decision to use the Station for Sydney’s 
plague cases and contacts was made against the advice of the Board of Health. The 
Board had reported on 7 February 1900 that the Station’s buildings, while suitable 
for the hospitalisation required for the small number of maritime quarantines, 
were ‘utterly inadequate’ for use during a plague epidemic. In the Board’s opinion, 
the Infectious Diseases Division of the Coast Hospital was a far more suitable 
place to cope with what might well be a stream of plague cases suffering from 
acute fever and with serious complications which the Station’s hospital was not 
equipped to handle. But the Board’s advice was rejected, partly because the 
government considered that it would be dangerous to move patients presently at 
the Coast Hospital, and partly because it feared that it would be necessary at the 
end of the epidemic to destroy the hospital because of the risk of continuing 
infection. The Board’s advice that it was not necessary to quarantine plague contacts, 
or to forbid the movement of merchandise, was also rejected.^ 

In early 1900, the Station’s accommodation was limited to about 48 beds in the 
hospital and 300 beds in the buildings in the Cabin Enclosure and the second and 
third class quarters. Despite some additions to staff quarters in the 1890s, there 
was barely sufficient accommodation for the permanent staff consisting of twelve 
people, without the addition of the large number of temporary nursing and 
labouring staff required. 


In Quarantine 

Recalling the problems and makeshift arrangements at the Station during the plague 
epidemic, Dr. J. Ashburton Thompson, Chief Medical Officer to the Government 
and president of the Board of Health, informed the Board in October 1900: 

I do not feel able to encounter again the enormous labour of gradually 
creating and conducting a temporary hospital of 100 beds as the 
Quarantine Hospital came to be... The labour of creating and enlarging 
a hospital under the conditions referred to is very great but that is not 
the only consideration. The fact is that the staff - medical, nursing and 
labouring, had to live at Quarantine during the time of the epidemic 
under very trying conditions which included over-crowding, living in 
tents, insufficient dining accommodation etc., and it is due entirely to 
the goodwill with which every member co-operated in meeting an 
emergency that things went as smoothly as they are now seen to have 
done. But the Board has no right to rely upon the same people for the 
same sacrifices in the future’.^ 

The need for sacrifices was not due to any lack of foresight by the Board of 
Health. From 1894, when an epidemic of plague was proclaimed in Hong Kong, 
measures for preventing the spread of plague from vessels which arrived regularly 
in Port Jackson fi-om plague-infected ports had been the subject of many of the 
Board’s discussions and resolutions. 

Until 1900, cleansing measures on quarantined vessels were mainly based on 
the advice of an International Convention held in Venice in 1897, which had 
ignored theories about the likely role of rats in transmitting the disease and had 
recommended that vessels arriving from infected ports be cleansed in the same 
manner as vessels suspected of carrying cholera. This meant that while rats, which 
might be carrying plague, peered furtively firom their hiding places on quarantined 
vessels, crews dumped all fi-esh water overboard, pumped out the bilge water, sent 
on shore all wooden casks and firesh firuit and vegetables for burning in the furnace 
near the wharf, bedding and clothing for cleansing in the Station’s laundry and all 
mail for Sydney, which was opened in the presence of a post office official and 
fumigated with sulphurous acid gas.® 

The greatest problem in combating the disease was the uncertainty about the 
way in which it was spread. The plague bacillus had been discovered in 1894 by a 
Japanese and a French scientist working independently, but the role of fleas and 
lice in transmitting the disease from plague-infected rats, although suspected, was 
not finally proved until the early twentieth century. 

Dr Thompson was alerted to the likelihood that the disease was spread by rats by 
a paper published by Dr P. L. Simond in Paris in 1898. He was provided with 
further evidence in April 1900 when Dr F.Tidswell, microbiologist and Principal 

During Plague in Sydney 


Assistant Medical Officer of the Government, discovered the plague bacillus in 
fleas taken from the bodies of dead rats in Sydney.* Until late 1899, however, 
Thompson was reluctant to insist on measures to destroy rats on vessels, since this 
would entail flooding their holds with sulphurous acid gas, ruining cargoes such as 
tea on the basis of unproven theories.’ 

Recognising that plague would sooner or later bypass the quarantine barriers, 
the Board of Health considered that it was essential to possess a sample of the 
plague bacillus which would allow microbiologists to devise means of early 
recognition of the disease. But when the Board sought a license to import the 
bacillus in August 1899, permission was refused by the Secretary for Lands who 
maintained that it would be ‘an act of criminal recklessness’ to bring such a deadly 
disease into the country, even for experimental purposes.® 

Bypassing the Secretary for Lands, the Board obtained verbal permission in 
March 1899 from the Premier, Sir William Lyne,‘to keep, cultivate and inoculate 
animals with the microbe of plague’, and formal permission followed on 12 March 
1900. The inoculation of animals for experimental purposes, which was carried 
out by the government’s Microbiological and Pathological Laboratories, involved 
the use of ‘plague horses’ which were stabled in an enclosure above Quarantine 
Beach. Between 1901 and 1907, a horse reportedly infected with leprosy was also 
stabled there.’ 

In mid-1899, the Board was given permission to import a small supply of 
Haffkine’s Prophylactic for protective inoculations, and this was used to inoculate 
the Station’s staff and other people who were in contact with the disease in the 
early stages of the 1900 epidemic. On 9 January 1900 approval was given to order 
from India a further 10 000 doses of the prophylactic, but before it arrived, plague- 
infected rats had escaped from moored vessels to a Sydney wharf.'® 

On 19 January 1900, the Board was informed that Arthur Paine, a carter who 
had been working on the Darling Harbour wharves, was displaying symptoms of 
a disease which could be bubonic plague. On 24 January an entry in the Station’s 
Diary of Duties and Occurrences recorded that the quarantine launch had returned 
from Sydney at 6.50 p.m., carrying Paine and three women and two children who 
had been in contact with him. On the following day Dr Thompson reported to 
the Board of Health that Paine’s case was undoubtedly a true case of plague, although 
in a mild form. 

On the Board’s instructions, two of the Station’s quarantine officers were sent to 
Sydney with equipment to fumigate Paine’s home, and instructions to remain in 
Sydney for the next few days to assist in rat-catching and cleaning operations at the 
wharves. Additionally, notices were posted in public areas, calling attention to the 
great chance of infection from rats and the need to keep premises clean, and directing 
that any dead rats be placed in boiling water and then buried." 


In Quarantine 

The inadequacies of the Station to cope with a land epidemic were not 
immediately apparent since about five weeks elapsed before the major outbreak. 
The end of the lull was signalled by an entry in the Station’s Diary on 24 February 
1900 that the quarantine launch had taken seven bags of disinfected mail from SS 
Moresby to Sydney, and had returned with seventeen plague contacts and the corpse 
of Captain T. R. Dudley, from Drummoyne, for burial. 

By then, inspection of the wharves and buildings by a team of sanitary inspectors, 
gathered together by the Board of Health, had revealed the extent of the clean-up 
needed of insanitary premises in Sydney. As part of the measures to control the 
epidemic, the wharves and portions of the city were closed successively to traffic 
from 23 March until 17 July, to allow gangs of workmen employed by the 
Department of Public Works to cleanse and disinfect streets, lanes, yards, houses 
and other buildings.*^ 

At the Station, Thompson personally supervised the arrangements for the care 
of plague cases and their contacts. Well-qualified and experienced medical staff 
were sent to the Station, and arrangements were made for a Consulting Medical 
Officer to visit the hospital on alternate days. The services of an ophthalmic surgeon 
were made available as required. In response to a call for volunteers, eighteen 
nurses from the Coast Hospital took up residence at the Station under the supervision 
of Head-Nurse Ford. Their duties included looking after plague cases on board 
three launches which ferried people to the Station from the Quarantine Depot at 
Cowper’s wharf in Woolloomooloo Bay. The Superintendent of Quarantine, J. F. 
Vincent, and his staff issued stores, manned the launches, fumigated mail and 
attended to the myriad of labouring duties involved in a quarantine. At the end 
of the epidemic,Thompson commended the efforts and loyalty of the staff, adding: 
‘the best evidence of their willing aid is. ..that whoever else may have suffered, at all 
events every patient was as comfortably lodged and as carefully tended as would 
have been the case in the best appointed hospital’.’^ 

Entries in the Station’s Diary indicate the staff’s concern for quarantined people. 
When Made, a homeless boy, was due for release from the Station on 6 March, but 
had no home to go to, Vincent kept him at the Station until arrangements were made 
for his care. But the working hours were long, and the tempers of overstressed staff 
became frayed on occasions. When the quarantine launch arrived from Sydney on 22 
March at 12.30 p.m. with patients and contacts on board, a ‘josher’ who refused to 
give his name and particulars was ‘promptly yanked off to the lock-up by Quarantine 
Officer Payne and left there until 10 a.m. next day’. On another occasion two people 
who were found to be ‘drunk and incapable’ were also locked up in the Stations 
gaol, a shed near the wharf, until they became sober.*® 

The gaol was shown on official maps of the period and the legality of the 
Station’s staff in locking people up was never challenged. The only complaint 

During Plague in Sydney 


made was in 1935 when, during the quarantine of the Aorangi, a mentally unbalanced 
man who constantly ‘invaded’ the Station and made a nuisance of himself by 
throwing stones at the buildings, was locked up for several days. Even then, the 
vagrant’s letter of complaint was more about the ‘prison diet’ of bread, jam and 
water than his imprisonment, and his bitter regrets that he had ever come to 
Sydney where all he had been given was the dole, amounting to 12 shillings in 
food each fortnight, and a bag of clothes.’* 

As part of the organisation to bring plague cases and contacts to the Station, an 
ambulance service was based at the Quarantine Depot at Cowper’s wharf, where 
the disinfecting staff and equipment were also located. Normally the depot was 
staffed only by a Quarantine Officer and a female caretaker, but during the epidemic 
the narrow strip of land housed up to 25 people, twelve horses and a number of 
ambulance wagons.” 

Because of the virulence of the disease, there was as little delay as possible from the 
time of death to burial. Bodies of people who died in Sydney were placed in specially 
treated coffins by a Sydney undertaker and were taken by launch from Cowper’s wharf 
to the Station for burial. A horse-drawn funeral wagon carried the coffins along the 
long, winding path to the Third Burial Ground, often late at night. A typical entry in the 
Station’s Record of Deaths shows that Peter Rafferty, aged 16, fix>m 359 Harris Street, 
Pyrmont, was quarantined on 2 May 1900, died at 5.30 p.m. on 3 May 1900 and was 
buried at 3 a.m. on 4 May 1900 with Father Ignatius officiating at the burial. 

Wherever possible, staff attended the burial services, which were conducted either 
by Superintendent Vincent or by one of the clergymen who lived at the Station 
during the epidemic.’* Following a tradition estabUshed in 1837 during the quarantine 
of the Lady MacNaghten, clergymen volunteered to Uve at the Station in order to 
provide spiritual comfort to the quarantined people and to conduct burial services. 
Two Catholic priests (Father Ignatius and Father Le Mesurier), a Presbyterian minister 
(the Rev. Alan McDougall), and an Anglican minister (the Rev. John F. Moran) 
remained there until 18 August 1900, when they were brusquely informed that 
their services were no longer required and that their pay had been stopped 
retrospectively from 1 1 August. Before Moran left the Station, he was called on to 
conduct a burial service for Robert West, 58, from 64 Greek Street, Glebe, whose 
death on 18 August was the last during the 1900 epidemic.” 

Unlike the 1881 smallpox epidemic, newspaper reports of conditions at the 
Station were generally favourable. On 24 March 1900, an article in the Sydney 
Mail described the ‘red-painted’ hospital buildings as airy and comfortable, 
resembling any well-constructed and well-conducted hospital. There were 
approving references also to Dr W. F. M. Shells who was in charge of the hospital, 
as the possessor of both Scottish and English medical degrees, and to the trained 
wardsman and three nurses who cared for the sick. 


In Quarantine 

An article with accompanying photographs in the Town and Country Journal also 
described the Station favourably, in what seems to have been a public relations 
exercise aimed at changing public perception of the Station as a place to be feared, 
to one which offered a high standard of care. Reassuringly, Professor T. P. Anderson 
Stuart, Dean of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and former Head 
of the Department of Public Health from 1893 to 1896, told a public audience 
that if he had the plague, the first thing he would do in his own and the pubHc’s 
interest would be to ask to be taken to the Station.^® 

However reassuring such statements were, the epidemic remained a frightening 
experience for Sydney residents. The inexplicable spread of the disease amongst 
people who believed they had not been in contact with an infected person and 
were not aware of the role of rats, added to public alarm, which at one stage caused 
a stampede in a city building where inoculations were given. When four children 
became infected with plague after playing in the Moore Park tip, the cause could 
be attributed to the pile of refuse dumped there from the wharves. It was difficult, 
however, to find a rational explanation from which lessons could be learned, when 
plague suddenly spread through a city hotel and people such as Margaret Whitehead 
of Borambil Station, Condobolin, who was holidaying in Sydney, became infected 
and died at the Station on 3 May 1900.^' 

Inscriptions on the headstones in the third Burial Ground record the sorrow of 
the bereaved. Many who died were breadwinners, whose deaths left their famihes 
without means of support at a time when there were no government welfare 
benefits. Occasionally the inscriptions suggest that death was a release from a hard 
life, as in the case of Edward Edney, 48, from 470 Riley Street, Surry Hills, whose 
widow and former fellow employees chose the words ‘no longer a servant but a 
brother beloved’. 

On 27 March when accommodation for plague cases and contacts was nearly 
exhausted, the Board of Health repeated an earlier recommendation to the 
government that contacts should be permitted to remain in their homes under 
surveillance unless there were special circumstances, such as refusal to be inoculated. 
The Premier remained unconvinced, arguing that unless a strict system was enforced 
both on the poor and the well-to-do, he would be accused of favouritism. As a 
compromise he agreed that from 31 March the quarantine for contacts could be 
reduced from ten to five days.^ 

By the end of March the Station’s hospital was fuU, and many contacts had to be 
housed in tents to allow convalescents to be transferred from the hospital to the 
Healthy Ground. In response to an urgent request from the Board for additional 
accommodation for contacts, the government approved the immediate erection of 
two pavilions on the Healthy Ground. The plans for these buildings, which were 
named the Lyne’s Buildings in honour of the Premier, provided fourteen bedrooms 

During Plague in Sydney 


in one building and 22 in the other, a dining room, water closets and kitchen staff 
accommodation, at an estimated cost of ^4 3 1 5 1 45. 

Work began immediately, but by the time the buildings were completed in 
1901 the epidemic was over. When a second epidemic occurred in 1902, the 
government accepted the Board’s advice and plague cases were sent to the Coast 
Hospital. Contacts were permitted to remain in their homes under medical 
surveillance, and merchandise, which was no longer considered to be a means of 
spreading infection, could be moved freely in the course of trade. 

In the opinion of Dr. J. H. L. Cumpston, the first Director-General of the 
Commonwealth Department of Health, the 1900 epidemic brought about a 
complete revolution in social medicine in Australia. The knowledge that infectious 
diseases could be transmitted from one human being to another by insects, and 
that infection could be derived from animals, displaced old superstitions and brought 
the study of public health under the principles and rules of scientific method.^® 

One immediate outcome of the 1900 epidemic was a report by Dr Thompson 
in which he recommended a number of alterations and additions at the Station. 
His recommendations were set aside, however, since the experience of the 1900 
epidemic had convinced the government that the Coast Hospital should be used 
in the event of another epidemic, and that there was no need to destroy buildings 
there to remove infection. 

An even more compelling argument against adopting Thompson’s 
recommendations was the knowledge that legislation was about to be enacted 
whereby the Australian colonies would become states within the Commonwealth 
of Australia, and quarantine would become the responsibility of the new 
Commonwealth government. With the winds of change blowing the yellow 
quarantine flag, there seemed little merit in approving an extensive development 
program at the Station, which would almost certainly be removed from the control 
of the New South Wales Government. 



The ‘Burning Issue* 

The spirit of optimism with which many people greeted the federation of the 
colonies was not universally shared by public servants whose responsibilities 
were about to be transferred to the Commonwealth Government. In the 
sometimes acrimonious correspondence on the transfer of quarantine stations 
which followed the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 
1 January 1901, it may well have caused the New South Wales Board of Health 
some chagrin to recall that the initial move for a federal quarantine system in 
the early 1880s had been sponsored by the Board of Health of that time. But 
what had been envisaged then was the adoption of uniform quarantine 
legislation which would be administered by each colony. What was now to be 
put into effect was the transfer of quarantine administration to federal control 
in a manner and to an extent which was not at all clear. It was a prospect for 
which the present Board felt little enthusiasm. 

The recent plague epidemic had shown that the loss of the Quarantine Station 
could cause severe problems for the New South Wales government in the event of 
another land epidemic, particularly if the Coast Hospital was already occupied by 
people suffering from a different type of infectious disease. In the opinion of DrW 
Ramsay Smith, chairman of the 1913 Commonwealth and States of Australia 
Quarantine Conference, possession of the Station became ‘the burning issue’ and, 
but for the reluctance of New South Wales authorities to lose the Station, the 
Commonwealth government would probably have had control of all Australian 
quarantine stations earlier than 1909.’ 

Sections 51(ix) and 69 of the Constitution Act had given the Commonwealth 
Government power to transfer the Department of Quarantine in each state to 
federal control. But apart from problems over the wording of the Act, there was 
the difficulty that there was no separate Department of Quarantine in New South 
Wales, where the administration of quarantine interlocked with the functions not 
only of the Department of Public Health but also other sections of the Public 
Service, such as Water Police, Customs, Harbour Pilots and Government Medical 

Politics & Practices 


The first move towards the transfer of quarantine was made by the federal Minister 
for Trade and Customs on 31 January 1901, when he asked the New South Wales 
Premier to provide a report regarding the expediency and framework of federal 
quarantine legislation. The Board of Health’s terse reply was that the federal 
government should confine itself to making quarantine law uniform throughout 
Australia, leaving the administration of details of the law in the hands of state 
governments. If this was not acceptable, the Board offered some lukewarm 
suggestions, and stressed that a large amount of discretion should be given to federal 
quarantine officers.^ 

The Board’s unenthusiastic response, echoed in varying degrees by health 
authorities in other states, resulted in a stalemate until 1904, when the Prime 
Minister requested each state premier to send a delegate to a Commonwealth of 
Australia Quarantine Conference to discuss the provisions of a Quarantine Act and 
the taking over of the administration of the quarantine laws of the various States.^ 

Dr J. Ashburton Thompson, president of the Board of Health, was appointed as 
the New South Wales delegate, causing him a dilemma. Although he supported 
the adoption of uniform quarantine legislation, he believed that quarantine should 
be part of general health administration in each state. Also, as he frankly 
acknowledged, the transfer of quarantine could have a serious effect on his career, 
lessening his responsibilities and probably resulting in a reduction in salary and 

The compromise reached was a recommendation that the Commonwealth 
Government should appoint a full-time Director General of quarantine, but that 
quarantine in each state should be administered by the state chief health officer, 
with delegated authority. 

Progress towards anabling legislation was slow, but eventually a new 
Quarantine Act was passed on 30 March 1908, which gave responsibility for 
the administration of quarantine to the Commonwealth Minister for Trade 
and Customs. Section 5 of the Act defined a quarantinable disease as smallpox, 
plague, cholera, yellow fever or leprosy or any disease proclaimed by the 
Governor-General, to be a quarantinable disease. Amongst the Act’s provisions. 
Section 1 1 permitted a state government to use a federal quarantine station in 
special circumstances, a power which was later invoked during the smallpox 
epidemic in Sydney in 1913. 

The definition of quarantinable diseases left with the state governments the 
problem of isolating cases of other communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, 
diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough and venereal disease, without recourse 
to their former quarantine stations. On 22 August 1912 the Premier of New 
South Wales, on the request of his ‘brother Premiers’, advised the Prime Minister 
that the state premiers considered that the Commonwealth Government should 


In Quabjvntine 

assume responsibility for all diseases likely to prove infectious or contagious, whether 
scheduled under the Quarantine Act or not. The request was approved and an 
addition was made to Section 35 of the Act to allow the removal to a quarantine 
station any persons suffering or suspected to be suffering from a communicable 
disease whether or not it was proclaimed as a quarantinable disease.® 

The passage of the Quarantine Act through parliament sparked considerable 
discussion and some adverse comment, but it was eventually passed on the 
understanding that a conference would be called to find solutions to the problems 
raised.® The Commonwealth and States of Australia Conference on Quarantine 
was duly held in February 1909, the outcome of which was the establishment of 
a Federal Quarantine Service within the Department of Trade and Customs to 
administer quarantine arrangements and stations throughout Australia, under the 
control of DrW. Perrin Norris as Director of Quarantine.^ 

From the time discussions began about the transfer of quarantine stations, the 
New South Wales government had been conscious of the need to protect itself 
against a complete takeover by the Commonwealth of the quarantine ground at 
North Head, where a hospital under state control could be erected if needed. In 
what appears to have been an attempt to allow for this possibility, a Proclamation 
by the New South Wales Governor was gazetted on 24 July 1907 revoking the 
dedication on 15 January 1886 of about 670 acres at North Head as the site for the 
Station, and rededicating 388 acres as a site for a land quarantine station and 282 
acres as a site for a marine quarantine station. 

Further discussions revealed, however, that the proposed realignment of the 
boundaries would exclude the water catchment area and cause other problems in 
creating a buffer zone between the Station and Manly. Finally it was agreed that 
the whole area of 670 acres should pass to Commonwealth control on the 
understanding that, in the event of the site being no longer used for quarantine 
purposes, it was to be returned to the state, as eventually happened in 1984. It was 
also agreed that, should the necessity arise, the Commonwealth would grant the 
state permission to erect hospitals for infectious diseases on a designated area.* 

By proclamation on 5 July 1909, the Governor-General appointed the following 
as Federal Quarantine Stations for the performance of quarantine by vessels, persons 
and goods,’ 


Quarantine Stations 

New South Wales 





North Head, Sydney 
Nepean Promontory, Portsea 
Coode Island 

Magnetic Island, Townsville 
Hammond Island, Thursday Island 

Politics & Practices 


South Australia 
Northern Territory 
Western Australia 
Western Australia 

Western Australia 
Western Australia 

Torrens Island, Port Adelaide 
Port Darwin 

Woodman’s Point, Fremantle 
Portion of Promontory abutting on 
Princess Royal Harbour, Albany 
Point Macleod, Koombana Bay, Bunbury 
State Quarantine Station, Broome 
Barnes Bay, Bruni Island, Hobart 

In New South Wales, a quarantine station had been proclaimed at Port Newcastle 
on 6 August 1890 and, following the 1900 plague epidemic, buildings capable of 
housing twelve patients and 40 contacts had been erected on site in 1901. Although 
the transfer of the Stockton station was not gazetted, the New South Wales Premier 
provisionally agreed on 14 June 1909 that this area be also proclaimed by the 
Commonwealth Government for quarantine purposes.^® 

On 3 September 1909, the Prime Minister requested the New South Wales 
Premier to transfer the land, buildings and equipment at the North Head Station, 
and all officers engaged in human and general quarantine work of any kind, to the 
Federal Quarantine Service. The transfer was delayed, however, until the question 
of financial recompense was resolved. Agreement was finally reached on 9 May 
1911 to fix a nominal rate of ;,(^50 per acre for the 670 acres, rather than claim the 
market value of ^100 per acre.” 

The transfer of quarantine officers engaged exclusively on quarantine work 
took place immediately. Dr C. W. Reid, Health Officer for Port Jackson since 
1903, was reclassified as Superintendent of Quarantine, and P. E. Getting, who 
had been appointed Superintendent of Quarantine and Overseer of Stores on 1 
December 1910, was re-classified as Deputy Superintendent of Quarantine. In 
1912, these titles were changed, and Reid was appointed Chief Quarantine Officer 
in New South Wales while Getting was given back his former tide as Superintendent 
of Quarantine.” 

At the Station, 1901-12 

When the plague epidemic ended in 1900, the Station returned to its normal 
function as a maritime quarantine station. However the establishment of other 
quarantine stations in Queensland and Western Australia meant that many overseas 
vessels with infectious diseases on board were quarantined before they reached 
Port Jackson, lessening the use of the Station. Although 30 vessels were quarantined 
in Port Jackson from 1901 until 1912, most were detained only for a few days for 
cleansing or to allow vaccination of passengers.” 

Amongst the vessels quarantined for longer periods because of disease on board 


In Quai^^ntine 

on arrival was SS Chingtu which was quarantined from 26 April until 15 May 
1901 because of smallpox on board. The vessel had brought back members of the 
New South Wales Chinese Naval Contingent from peacekeeping duties in Tientsin 
and Peking, following the Boxer Rebellion. Charles Edward Smart, 22, who had 
survived his service in China, died from smallpox on 20 May 1901 and was buried 
in the Third Burial Ground. His gravestone was erected ‘by the Officers of the 
N.S.W. Chinese Naval Contingent and Men’. 

The Station’s permanent staff in the early 1900s consisted of the Superintendent 
of Quarantine and Overseer of Stores, an assistant storekeeper, a boatman, coxswain 
and an engineer for the quarantine launch Lorna Doom, a wardsman, forewoman 
and five quarantine officers. Entries in the Station’s Diary show that work at the 
Station tended to fall into one of two patterns; during quarantines, it was mainly 
concerned with landing people from ships, allocating accommodation, operating 
the laundry and disinfecting equipment, stoking boilers for hot ■water for bathing, 
ferrying people and provisions between the Station and Sydney, issuing stores and 
patrolhng boundaries. In non-quarantine periods, work usually involved maintaining 
buildings, cleaning stables, checking stores, repairing linen, making candles, clearing 
water races, painting buildings and signs and clearing paths. Reminiscing about 
life at the Station in the 1920s and 1930s as the daughter of Quarantine Officer 
Woodward, Mrs M. Worthington recalled being told that before she lived there, 
the children of members of staff were taken to school in a covered wagon drawn 
by an old horse, and that the driver sometimes ‘got a bit merry’ while •waiting in 
Manly to bring the children home in the afternoon.” 

Perhaps because of the isolated nature of the work, the Station seems mainly to 
have attracted staff (some of whom were former lighthouse keepers) who possessed 
common characteristics of sturdy self-reliance, a willingness to co-operate with 
reasonable requests and an equally strong willingness to challenge what seemed to 
be unreasonable requests. This was evident in 1903 when six members of staff 
decided to petition for improved leave and overtime arrangements. The petition 
was refused, and probably in a spirit of defiance. Quarantine Officer E. Dechow 
complained to the Board of Health that he had been required to drive 
SuperintendentVincent to Manly after working hours.Vincent was informed that 
although there was no objection to his occasional use of the Station’s buggy to 
carry him to a place where he could engage a public conveyance, he should not 
call on the quarantine officers for such service.The vexed question of long working 
hours was resolved in 1904, when staff were granted time off for overtime worked 
beyond 48 hours per week and more generous annual leave.” 

The comparatively little use of the Station, combined \vith the impending transfer 
from state to federal control, meant that there was little inclination to undertake 
any major improvements to buildings. In 1902, a second reservoir was constructed. 

Politics &c Practices 


and Asiatic quarters (approved in 1898) were erected. An Asiatic kitchen was erected 
in 1906, but other construction work was of a minor nature. 

Following a visit to the Station in 1907, a nurse wrote an approving description 
of the place which was published in the Australasian Nurses' Journal on 15 June 
1907. She described the hospital ward for steerage passengers as a long room with 
a row of beds on each side, each with curtains on rings for privacy and with 
bathrooms at the end of the ward. Everything was ready for immediate use and the 
floors were spotlessly white, the ‘cleanest of any hospital 1 have seen’. The male and 
female wards for first-class passengers were comfortably furnished with honeycomb 
quilts, white curtains and towels and mats on spotless floors. The bathrooms at one 
end had hot water taps and small baths on wheels which could be brought alongside 
each bed. There was a dispensary and a medical officer’s office adjoining the wards. 
The second-class passengers’ wards were described as similar, although not so well 
furnished. The facilities for first-class passengers on the Healthy Ground included 
a large saloon, a bar, and a billiard room where dances and concerts could be held. 

Although the nurse was impressed, a number of deficiencies remained. There 
was not enough accommodation either in the buildings on the Healthy Ground 
where there were 469 single beds and 25 double beds, or in the Hospital where 
there were 46 beds.” It was difficult to transport heavy items around the Station, 
the type of disinfecting equipment was not adequate and the arrangements for 
people to undergo a disinfecting process on landing and before entering the buildings 
was not satisfactory.These were common deficiencies in all the Austrahan quarantine 
stations, as Dr W. P. Norris found on taking up his appointment as the new Federal 
Director of Quarantine in 1909. 

A Major Building Program 

In submitting quarantine budget estimates for 1909- 10, Dr Norris revealed a shrewd 
grasp of the politics of government funding. Referring to the adverse comments 
made on the subject of Commonwealth control when the Quarantine Bill passed 
through parliament, he stressed that the ‘first firuits’ which would be looked for by 
such critics would be greater facilities for transport and trade. These would not be 
obtained, he pointed out, without spending money fireely to improve the machinery 
of quarantine.” 

The minister’s reaction was to send Norris on a study tour of the United States 
and the United Kingdom for the purpose of ‘inquiring into and reporting upon 
the most advanced methods of quarantine and provision against the introduction 
of contagious and infectious diseases from overseas’. Between September 1911 
and February 1912, Norris inspected quarantine arrangements in America, Canada, 
England, Germany, France, Egypt, Aden, Colombo, Singapore, Japan, Honolulu 


In Quarantine 

and Manila. His ‘Report on Quarantine in other Countries and on the Quarantine 
Requirements of Australia’, dated 31 March 1912, was tabled before a receptive 
Parliament on his return. 

Norris’ report dispelled any reservations about the justification of expensive 
quarantine stations in Australia. He reported that smallpox was endemic throughout 
the world and that Australia was unquestionably one of the worst protected countries 
in the civihsed world with regard to personal vaccination. Plague and yellow fever 
were practically pandemic and, with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, 
yellow fever could quickly spread to Australia where conditions for the survival of 
mosquitoes carrying the disease would be favourable. Since Australia was in regular 
shipping communication with countries where these diseases were prevalent, he 
urged that major stations, fully equipped as recommended at the Quarantine 
Convention held in Paris in 1903, be maintained in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, 
Fremantle, Albany, Adelaide and Hobart, and that minor stations, equipped with 
some hospital and observation beds and detention accommodation, be maintained 
at the ports of Darwin, Thursday Island, Townsville, Broome and Bunbury.*’ 

Norris’ recommendations were adopted and an amount of 000 was set 
aside in the financial estimates for the coming year to allow work to commence. 
For the Station at Port Jackson he recommended:^ 

1 . The extension by reclamation and the raising of the area adjoining 
the jetty to provide a site for luggage sheds, a large disinfection 
block and laundry and a power house. 

2. Bathing blocks for disinfecting people landed from a ship. 

3. A modern isolation and observation block for 30 cases who might 

be incubating an infectious disease. 

4. Dining and kitchen blocks for the use of steerage passengers. 

5. Dormitory blocks for 300 steerage passengers. 

6. Dormitory and living block for 100 second class passengers. 

7. A cable tramway from the jetty to the store room. 

8. A tramway system connecting all the main buildings. 

9. Electric light installation. 

10. A cottage for the Deputy Superintendent of Quarantine. 

1 1 . The furnishing of present and new accommodation. 

12. A crematorium 

With the exception of the crematorium, the recommendations were approved 
and work began on the wharf area in 1912, where old buildings were demolished 
and sixteen perches of the seashore reclaimed. When this had been accomplished, 
building were erected adjacent to the wharf for the reception of passengers and 
crews which included a disinfecting block. This became operational in 1917, 
following the installation of two autoclaves (disinfecting chambers) imported from 

Politics &c Practices 


England. Each autoclave measured 1 8 feet in length and had a disinfecting capacity 
of about 526 cubic feet, enabling 600 blankets or their equivalent volume to be 
disinfected in one charge. Steam was brought from the boilers in the new power 
house at a maximum temperature of 115 degrees C, and an attachment allowed 
the alternate use of formaldehyde or hydrocyanic acid gas at a maximum temperature 
of 71.1 degrees C for articles which were unsuitable for steam treatment. There 
was also provision for chemical disinfection by means of fumigation, soaking, 
swabbing etc. and for preliminary treatment of material.^' 

Other buildings erected in the wharf area included two bathing blocks, where 
people were required to shower with water to which a disinfecting solution had 
been added and change into disinfected clothing, a luggage store, a doctor’s 
examining room where people were medically checked immediately on landing, 
and a steam laundry where clothing, bedding and other articles were cleansed. 

As part of the landing procedure, each person was required before disembarkation 
to pack sufficient clothing and personal items for the next 24 hours, using two 
differently coloured cahco bags to distinguish articles which could be disinfected 
by steam and those which required the use of gas. After disinfection these were 
returned to their owners at the bathing block, where their clothing, which they 
had removed before showering and placed in wire baskets, was immediately 
disinfected in the autoclaves. 

Fumigation of the vessel was accomplished by means of a fumigating barge, 
normally moored at Berrys Bay where a quarantine depot was established in 1912. 
The barge was towed to the quarantined ship by the steam launch Jenner, acquired 
in 1914 and equipped with a small fumigating machine. From the barge, sulphur 
dioxide gas or hydrocyanic gas was pumped into the vessel’s hold.^^ 

Major changes at the Station included the construction of a funicular railway 
system to enable luggage, stores and other heavy items to be transported from the 
wharf. From 1914 a benzine locomotive pulled railway trucks on steel tracks which 
passed through the luggage shed, branched into the disinfecting block, proceeded 
about 750 feet up the slope to the first-and second-class passengers’ buildings on 
the Healthy Ground, and then proceeded about 250 feet to the third-class passenger 

As the upgrading work progressed between 1912 and 1920, interrupted from 
time to time by quarantines, some changes were made to the original proposals. 
Additions included a coach-house and new stables for the Station’s draughthorses, 
a gatekeeper’s cottage at the boundary gate leading to Manly and the construction 
of wooden water pipes throughout the Station. 

One important addition was the erection of the Seamen’s Isolation Hospital at 
CoUins Flat, above Collins Beach in Spring Cove, for the treatment of crew members 
and passengers who were infected with venereal disease. This followed a 


In Quarantine 

recommendation on 24 May 1916, by a committee appointed to report to the 
Commonwealth government on the principal causes of death and invalidity in 
Australia, that special provision should be made at every principal port for the 
treatment of seamen infected with venereal disease, and that special legislation 
should be passed to make treatment compulsory, a proposal which had Dr J. H. L. 
Cumpstons strong support4^ 

The erection of the Seamen’s Isolation Hospital as part of the Quarantine Station 
was approved and, under the port’s quarantine regulations, a ship’s master was 
required to notify the port’s Chief Quarantine Officer of every case of venereal 
disease which he knew or suspected existed amongst the people on his ship. Any 
such cases were removed to the new hospital, and were only released when they 
were no longer infectious or on the ship’s departure fix)m Port Jackson.The buildings 
comprised an administrative block, operating room, treatment room, dispensary, 
dining block, storeroom, kitchen block, and four wards connected to each other 
and to the dining block by a long covered verandah. 

In October 1918 patients were first admitted to the new hospital, which 
continued to be used for the treatment of cases of venereal disease until about 
1928. Thereafter it was used for a variety of purposes, occasionally for isolating a 
single case of infectious disease or, as in 1935, for accommodating Papuan students, 
known as ‘the barefoot doctors’, who were attending the School of Pubhc Health 
at the University of Sydney. 

By the early 1920s, the Station could accommodate 1 208 people, as follows:” 

Contact accommodation 

First-class ( including 62 stewards) 220 

Second-class 112 

Third-class 393 

Isolation hospital 66 

Observation hospital 18 

Administrative and temporary staff, postal officials etc. 25 

Seamen’s Isolation Hospital 28 

Reserve bedding 346 

In April 1913, an important change occurred in the management of the Station. 
Dr Norris resigned as Federal Director of Quarantine to take up an appointment 
in England, and was replaced by Dr J. H. L. Cumpston, Doctor of Medicine 
(Melbourne), Diploma in Public Health (London). Cumpston had already acquired 
considerable quarantine experience, and had been Acting Director of the Federal 
Quarantine Service while Norris was on his study tour in 1911-12. He knew the 
Station well, and from the time of his appointment as director, he took a close 
interest in its administration, visiting it regularly and sometimes wearing white 
gloves to check the cleanliness of work surfaces.” 

Politics & Practices 


Until 1913, the Federal Quarantine Service had only been concerned with the 
quarantine of vessels arriving in Austrahan ports. However, when smallpox broke 
out in Sydney in July 1913, the Commonwealth Government agreed to the use of 
the Station, and Cumpston became closely involved in the management of the 
land epidemic. The disputes which arose over the management of this quarantine 
were to have long-term effects on the future of the Station, finally severing its 
links with the New South Wales Department of Public Health. 




Under the new federal quarantine system, the Station was administered in the 
Trade and Customs Department by the Federal Director of Quarantine. Three 
full-time Quarantine Officers, answerable only to the Director, were appointed in 
Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, of whom Dr. C.W. Reid was appointed 
as the chief administrative and executive officer in New South Wales. To succeed, 
the new system required close co-operation between state and federal health 
authorities, but friction soon arose over the administration of quarantine, surfacing 
initially over the different and largely ineffective quarantine arrangements in various 
Australian ports for PvMS Otway as she steamed around the Australian coast. When 
the steamship arrived in Sydney on 1 April 1910, there were seven smallpox cases 
on board, one of whom died at the Station. Later it was claimed that the Director 
of the Federal Quarantine Service had failed to formulate a uniform system but 
had subsequently blamed state health authorities for the resultant confusion.’ 

Smallpox and *A Gratuitous and Embarrassing Embargo*, 1913 

In 1913 the friction between state and federal health authorities came to a head over 
the quarantine arrangements during a smallpox epidemic in Sydney. The epidemic 
apparendy originated from one of the crew of SS Zeelandia, who was unaware that he 
was suffering from the disease in a mild form when he visited a girl employed in a 
clothing factory. In May 1913 the factory’s manager complained to the Department of 
Labour and Industry that a number of his employees had been absent from work with 
a rash. But at that time, Sydney Nvas experiencing a severe outbreak of chickenpox and 
this was the initial diagnosis by the Department of Health medical staff. 

By the time smallpox was proclaimed as an epidemic on 1 July 1913, the disease 
had spread widely throughout the largely unvaccinated population. At least 1 089 
people were infected, but the disease was of a mild form and the only death amongst 
the smallpox cases was not directly due to the disease. From July 1913 to the end 
of January 1914, 1 402 people were quarantined at the Station; of these, 1 013 
were diagnosed as smallpox cases (although twelve were later found not to have 
smallpox), and 389 were contacts. In the overcrowded hospital and surrounding 
tents, the number of patients peaked at 309 on 12 September 1913.^ 

Conflicts &c Epidemics 


Shortly before the epidemic was proclaimed, the high incidence of infectious 
diseases in the community had raised unresolved questions about the state s right 
to use the Quarantine Station. On 6 June 1913 the New South Wales Premier 
informed the Prime Minister that, in the event of a land epidemic, his government 
considered that the Station’s management should be controlled by the officers of 
the State Board of Health. The compromise reached for the first few weeks of the 
epidemic by Dr R.T. Paton, Director-General of the New South Wales Department 
of Health, and Dr J. H. L. Cumpston, the newly appointed Federal Director of 
Quarantine, was that the state would provide the medical and nursing staff at the 
Station, on the understanding that it would remain under the control of Dr C.W 
Reid, the Commonwealth Chief Quarantine Officer of New South Wales. On 
this basis, Paton directed that Dr G. Heydon and a number of nurses be sent from 
the Coast Hospital to the Station where it soon became apparent that, although Dr 
Reid was supposed to be in charge of the quarantine arrangements, a number of 
administrative decisions were being taken without consulting him.^ 

As soon as Dr. Cumpston was informed of the epidemic, he visited Sydney to 
inspect the arrangements. According to Paton, he was sympathetic towards the 
state’s problems, but gave no indication that he intended on his return to Melbourne 
to recommend to the Governor-General that Sydney should be proclaimed a 
quarantine area.The first news Paton received of this was a newspaper announcement 
on 4 July 1913 that Sydney, within an area of fifteen miles from the General Post 
Office, had been proclaimed a quarantined area, and that people who had not 
been successfully vaccinated in the previous five years were prohibited from 
travelling outside the proclaimed area.The quarantine remained in force until 21 November, 
causing intense indignation amongst Sydney residents. In Paton’s opinion, it embarrassed 
the New South Wales Department of Health, hampered and injuriously affected trade and 
gready inconvenienced travellers. In forceful terms, the Premier publicly condemned the 
quarantine of Sydney as ‘a gratuitous and embarrassing embargo’.'* 

The joint control of the Station in the early stages of the epidemic proved 
unsuccessful, and differences of opinion soon strained working relationships between 
Dr Reid and the state Department of Health. At Cumpston’s request, the Prime 
Minister advised the New South Wales Premier on 5 August 1913 that, in granting 
the state permission to use the Station, it had never been intended that its full 
control should pass from the hands of the federal government, even temporarily, 
but that reports from the Minister for Trade and Customs indicated that the state 
Department of Health was directing much of the station’s internal and external 
administration. He requested the state Government to recognise that the control 
of the Station rested entirely in Dr Reid’s hands.® 

In a exchange which took place at the 1913 Commonwealth and States 
Quarantine Conference, Paton stated: ‘The State ran the Quarantine Station for 


In Quarantine 

about a month and then we were informed by the Commonwealth authorities 
that they would take it over. At the time the Quarantine Station was in the charge 
of Dr Reid and our officers worked under him’. Cumpston’s revealing reply was: 
‘They should have but they did not; that is the trouble’.® 

The conflict of authority at the Station was resolved on 25 August 1913, when 
the staff supplied by the New South Wales government was withdrawn and replaced 
by staff employed by the Commonwealth government, of whom four were medical 
officers and 48 were either nurses or hospital attendants. The changeover of stafl" 
must have caused a major upheaval at the Station, but neither then, nor at any 
other stage, did the Superintendent’s entries in the Station’s Diaries of Weekly 
Duties and Occurrences reveal any interest in the politics of the management of 
the place. Problems such as those caused by people breaking quarantine were of 
more immediate concern. 

The difficult task of guarding the Station’s boundaries had been intensified by 
the presence of so many workmen engaged on the building program, who 
occasionally strayed into the quarantined areas. But a greater problem was caused 
by bored people who decided to relieve the tedium of their quarantine by ‘going 
over the wall’ to visit nearby Manly. One such incident occurred on 7 September 
when at 10 p.m. five convalescents were found to be missing fix>m their beds. A 
search party eventually encountered the revellers as they returned fiom Manly 
around midnight, when they were placed under surveillance and later charged 
under the Quarantine Act.’ 

Indicating the shortage of accommodation, the convalescents had been housed 
in the No.2 Storeroom. At one stage, when the numbers of contacts exceeded 
available accommodation, only those contacts who refused vaccination were sent 
to the Station. However, as the epidemic lessened, the practice was resumed of 
quarantining all contacts.* 

Unlike the 1881 smallpox epidemic, reactions to the Station were mostly favourable. 
In the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 July 1913, the official routine was described as 
fairly satisfactory; the buildings were described as commodious, clean and presentable, 
and the presence of a complete sewerage system and an abundant water supply received 
favourable mention; there were 500 acres of ground ‘to ramble over’... cricket and 
football had been played, fishing and swimming were available to all. 

By mid-September the epidemic appeared to be under control, and the Premier 
wrote to the Prime Minister requesting the lifting of Sydney’s quarantine. In 
response, a Quarantine Conference was summoned in Melbourne on 19 November 
to which all state premiers were invited to send their chief health officers to consider, 
in consultation with Dr Cumpston, both the circumstances under which the 
embargo could be lifted and the nature of joint action of the Commonwealth and 
States in relation to similar future epidemics. 

Conflicts & Epidemics 


The embargo was lifted, but the transcript of the conference’s proceedings 
revealed considerable resentment over federal intervention during the epidemic 
without prior negotiation, and also that the conference chairman. Dr W. Ramsay 
Smith, considered that Cumpston had breached the spirit of the 1904 Quarantine 
Conference by acting unilaterally. Cumpston, faced with criticism, was politely 
unyielding, later commenting that it was considered politic not to bring into the 
discussion many incidents which would have indicated that the states administration 
of quarantine had not been entirely satisfactory. Possibly he wished, later that he 
had been more outspoken in his own defence, particularly when the New South 
Wales Premier sent to the Prime Minister on 3 July 1914 a report by Paton on 
amendments needed to the Quarantine Act, in which he stated that neither Norris 
nor Cumpston’s performance had been satisfactory, chiefly, in his opinion, through 
lack of quarantine experience.’ 

The ending of the epidemic in January 1914 did not end the disputes. On 
receiving a claim from the Commonwealth Government for ^ 000 for the use 
of the Station, the New South Wales Government at first refused to pay.'® 

The effect of the smallpox epidemic on the Station’s future was significant. In a 
bitter end to a long relationship, the old hnks with the New South Wales Board of 
Health and the Department of Health were severed. Drs Cumpston and Reid 
took firm control of the administration of the Station, where many of the procedures 
they put in place were adopted in other Austrahan quarantine stations. 

Military Tubercular H^rds 1916-18 

Whatever resentment was felt by the state government over Commonwealth 
Government intervention in the smallpox epidemic, there were many areas of 
public health in which Commonwealth support was welcomed, notably in deahng 
with the health problems of servicemen returning from World War 1 . When 
accommodation for tubercular ex-servicemen at the Red Cross sanatorium at 
Bodington became exhausted, permission was granted to use the Station.Tubercular 
wards were set up in the Lyne’s Buildings on the Healthy Ground, and the first 
group of 20 patients were sent there on 16 October 1916. 

To maintain army discipline, a non-commissioned officer and three AAMC 
orderlies were assigned to the Station, and nurses in the tubercular wards were 
granted membership of the Army Nursing Service and permitted to wear army 
uniform. The cost of each patient’s care, estimated as seven shillings per day, was 
paid by the Defence Department to the Customs Department. 

In October 1917, the Director-General of the AAMC units reported that the 
patients ‘seemed extremely happy and contented for men suffering such a type of 
disease as advanced consumption. . .They are under excellent care and well provided 


In Quarantine 

for.’ The arrangement continued only until 20 October 1918, however, when all 
of the Station’s facilities were needed during the pneumonic influenza epidemic." 

The Pneumonic Influenza Epidemic, 1918-19 

Throughout 1918 a pandemic of particularly virulent strain of influenza spread 
through Europe, America, Africa and Asia reaching New Zealand in October 1918, 
when it was immediately declared a quarantinable disease in Australia.The pandemic, 
which was commonly described as Spanish Influenza but officially designated as 
pneumonic influenza, is believed to have caused an estimated 21 642 274 deaths." 

From October 1918 all vessels arriving in Australian ports from Africa and New 
Zealand were required to perform quarantine for a mandatory period of up to 
seven days, during which a daily thermometer parade was held of all on board and 
any person with a temperature of 99 degrees F. or over was isolated for observation. 
Accounts differ about the number of vessels quarantined at the Station, where as 
many as thirteen were moored in Spring Cove at the same time. According to Dr 
Cumpston, 110 vessels carrying over 12 000 people were quarantined in Port 
Jackson between 7 November 1918 and 27 March 1919 and fifteen of these had 
infected people on board. During these quarantines, 70 people died at the Station, 
of whom 1 4 were servicemen, nine were Italian Reservists, two were army nurses 
and one was a member of the quarantine staff. Others were passengers and crew 
members, mainly Fijians and Pacific Islanders." 

The source from which the disease entered Australia was never traced to a 
particular vessel. Dr Cumpston suspected that an already established local infection 
slowly evolved to a stage of virulence. On the other hand. Dr W. G. Armstrong, 
who later became Director-General of Public Health in New South Wales, theorised 
that two separate infections reached Australia, one of low virulence in August 
1918 and the other of a highly intensified virulence which broke through the 
quarantine barriers in January 1919. 

Until 27 January 1919, the quarantine barrier kept the disease from Sydney 
residents, and the success of the quarantine service was widely acclaimed. On 2 
January 1919 the Sydney Morning Herald had reported that the Station had been 
free of disease for five days after a ‘ceaseless and heroic battle lasting about ten 
weeks during which 6 222 people had been quarantined from 51 ships. During 
this period , 653 people had been hospitalised of whom 43 had died. 

Sadly, the acclaim was premature. On 24 January a returned soldier, who had 
travelled overland from Melbourne, was admitted to the Military General Hospital 
at Randwick with pneumonic influenza. Within days, other cases were reported, 
and on 27 January New South Wales was proclaimed as a quarantine area within 
which all people and goods were subject to quarantine." From the end of January 

Conflicts & Epidemics 


until 8 August 1919, 21 700 cases were ofBcially reported in Sydney, but the true 
number of cases in the metropolitan area alone was estimated to be closer to 
290 000 (over 36% of the population). Deaths in New South Wales from 1 January 
to 30 September 1919 were at least 6 244.*® 

One of the problems in preventing the spread of the disease was its rapid onset, 
which was described by a medical officer who boarded the troopship Medic. 

The scene on board was remarkable. A score or more of stalwart young 
men lay helpless about the after-well deck awaiting transport to the 
improvised and overflowing hospitals in the troop-decks. That they lay 
there was not due to any neglect or delay on the part of the 
stretcher-bearers, but to the extraordinarily sudden and disabling onset 
of the disease. One smart, well-set-up young soldier came up to the 
companion-ladder close to a where I stood, held on for a few seconds 
to a rail, and then sagged slowly down till he assumed the characteristic, 
flattened sprawl on deck. There was no pretence of ‘old-soldiering’ 
about it. The men were being literally knocked down by a profound, 
systematic intoxication of extraordinarily rapid onset.*® 

The Medic, which was carrying 833 troops and 156 crew members, was 
transporting members of the AIF and Italian Reservists to the battlefields ofWorld 
War 1, had been recalled when peace was declared. On 7 November 1918 the 
troopship docked in Wellington, New Zealand, for refuelling before returning to 
Sydney, and during this time the disease was carried onto the ship. On arrival in 
Port Jackson on 21 November 1918, there were 203 cases on board, quickly rising 
to 335 cases on landing. Twenty two of those infected were nurses who attended 
to the Medics patients. The epidemic continued amongst the Medic’s troops, crew 
and nurses for 40 days, killing 22 men and two nurses .*^ 

Some 66 years later, Alec Roland Dill, then a retired bank officer living in 
Toowoomba, Queensland, but now deceased, still experienced deep emotion when 
he spoke of his comrades when he was a young Army sergeant on board the Medic, 
recalling that ‘The whole deck was turned into a hospital and men were put 
everywhere they could go. First thing in the morning they were found unconscious 
in the scuppers and all over the ship. I might mention here this was one of the 
things I didn’t want to talk about — ^it frightened me then and it still frightens me.’** 
Sergeant Dill became infected with influenza and was carried off the Medic to a 
‘great big room’ at the Station where he was placed on the concrete floor. He was 
convinced that one of the nurses, ‘an elderly one’, had saved his life: ‘She got a 
doctor and said “we will give you an injection that will make you jump”. My 
word it did too. I found out afterwards it was strychnine.’ Reminiscing about the 
arrangements at the Station, he recalled that meat supplies were delivered to the 


In Quarantine 

hospital from the lower ground by means of a pulley, and that in hot weather ‘it 
was walking by the time it got to the top’. 

In the absence of Dr Reid on sick leave, the supervision of the Station was undertaken 
at first by his assistant, Dr Mitchell and then by Dr J. S. C .Elkington, Chief Quarantine 
Officer for the North-Eastern Division of the Federal Quarantine Service. Fourteen 
doctors were sent to the Station together with 40 nurses, mostly volunteers, some of 
whom were transferred firom the Randwick Military hospital. A large number of 
temporary staff were employed and, in addition to a strong military guard, 34 members 
of the Sydney Police Force were sent there for patrol duties, which included patrolling 
Spring Cove at night in a launch equipped with a spothght. 

Both staff and quarantined people were given a protective inoculation of coryza 
vaccine. Treatment for infected people included the administration of 15-gram doses 
of calcium lactate at four-hourly intervals. Convalescents, before release fix>m the 
hospital area, and contacts, before release fix>m quarantine, were required to undergo 
steam disinfection of throat and air passages. This involved the inhalation of steam 
ejected at pressure fix)m a solution containing 1% of zinc sulphate, usually administered 
over a period of three days, twice a day for about 4 minutes in each session. For this 
purpose, two inhalation chambers were installed in the disinfecting block in 1919.*’ 

The uncomfortable nature of the steam spray process was described in a letter 
from ‘a recently-suspected person’ published in The Bulletin on 2 January 1919 as 
follows: ‘Into one small closed chamber capable of seating about 20 people, I have 
seen 42 herded for their vapour baths which a few took in bathing togs but the 
majority in their ordinary dress. No shower was available after coming out of the 
vapour bath and the bathers walked in their steamed clothes to their own compound 
600 yards away.’The correspondent also criticised the Station’s staff who left untied 
their compulsory masks, and the lax supervision of sanitary arrangements. In 
contrast, a quarantined member of the American Rockefeller Foundation praised 
his treatment and described the Station’s size and equipment as very much in 
advance of any other quarantine station in the world.“ 

The close proximity of so many infected people to Manly again led to requests 
for the Station’s relocation. Following a public meeting on 3 December 1918, a 
large contingent of people, including 80 state and Commonwealth parhamentarians, 
went by a special train to Jervis Bay on 10 January 1919 to inspect a new site, but 
doubts about whether there were suitable anchorages there for large overseas vessels 
caused the plan to be abandoned.^* 

By then, some 2 500 people were quarantined at North Head, most in tents. To 
cope with anxious enquiries, an information bureau was set up in the Customs 
House at Circular Quay to provide information about patients to the scores of 
people who queued each day for news. Lists describing the condition of patients 
in the Station’s hospital were also published daily. 

Views of the Quarantine Station 1919, following a major upgrading program. 
(Maritime Quarantine Administration, Melbourne, 1919). 

■Vr/rsw. Hospital 

! cturiur tnm:k 

inviiiinn * 

l.snlaliofi liii.spital 

L ui/i/.iu'i' a/orr Je/ly. 

Landing and isolation section 

Passengers guarters 



A'.i'/tfHf room 

Bofif^r houst 

DisinFei hng block 

Bath block 

Ba/b block 

Disinfection Section 

IWO TIKK lltuN IlKD-sTKAhS, Tlllltli l l.\S,s IliiltMITOllV. 

Third Class Baths 

Third-Class Dining Room 

A view of the autoclaves fumigating imported coir matting. (Health 1953) 

Quarantine staff circa 1923: Front row centre Superintendent of Quarantine, P. E. Getting; on his right. 
Chief Quarantine Officer, Dr. C. W. Reid; on his left. Quarantine officer. Dr. J.MacMaster.The thirteen 
quarantine assistants have not been identified. 

Fumigating Depot at Berrys Bay showing the quarantine launch Pasteur and the fumigating barge. 
{Australasiati 2 September 1922) 

During the quarantine of Aorangi passengers in 1 935 (National Parks and Wildlife Service: Station s archives) 

Photograph of the Quarantine Station circa 1950 

1. Wharf, luggage and doctor's examining room, disinfecting and laundry blocks, 2. Hospital area, including 
medical staff quarters. 3. Observation block. 4. Contacts:- third-class area, including asiatic dormitories. 
5. Contacts:- first and second-class quarten and tennis lawns. 6. Funicular railway. 7. Last remaining 
boundary pillar. 8. Site of the first burial ground. 9. Second burial ground. 10. Third burial ground. 

Some of 21 5 orphans who were rescued from orphanages in Vietnam in April 1975 during the bombing 
ofSaigon.The children shown were were accommodate at the Station until homes were found for them. 

Views of the Station in 1981. 

f. ' ' ' 

1 • •■•1 

i^Hf. '"I 

‘Quarantine Burying Ground, Sydney Harbour’ by G. F. Angas (Mitchell library). This was the first of 
three burial grounds, and was used from March 1837 until April 1853, when the site was levelled. 

Below: Three of the gravestones originally located in the First Burial Ground 

jAWEWHopep* thisljf 

MARCH 1837 6^ AGEO 17 

Alexander Aberdeen was a 
gardener from Glasgow. His son 
Robert aged 7 months had died 
earlier on 28 January 1837. 

PILOSE xifiF remaWi; 


I I rr HM Ni IL 

. • 'VE OF mNDtMNIE 
=. T u \F v/tcrov tnnE,iN 
k '. 0 >’ ; I>-WI ' i OF ^COTl WD 

.■■■7 M Noil rjti ;• a brief illnesv 

oi only eig nl liyr. rlur.Uion.of typh’J^ 
f.-vii. or. bo^id (he emifia.nt 

.liipMIM' whichvtssel h« was.-v 
pass) IV. cr s'hth drlain*.-^ >tlheQosr»ntou' 

sblioti Rpntr. C’we.Uic .. 

, ■ t'cbruiiyi!”” ' 


Inlcndeit® inarktlH spotvdush fomitj 
i hir UKt earthly re«in 8 -pl*"'>'^ 2 J 




oF the i.anenr » oL 
J.A.HawKiriS £s ij 
i’argton on board] 
tht ship 

Ltds h/a<jhttn 
who Dept^th'S Life 
Ajar c/i and a^ed s6h*3 

rs ^7 

The last remaining gravestone in the Second Burial 
ground which was used from May 1853 until the first 
week of September 1881. The gravestone is over the 
grave of Isaac Lowes, 6, who arrived with his parents on 
the Smyrna and died fiom scarlet fever on 25 August 1878. 

0 P h c 

W I Pe oF T ho5 

K I'F Son w 
P |EC( 0 ^7*" 

/? 4 1 A g ed 30 
V €,a P5 

Elizabeth Ritson's gravestone 

Mrs Ritson arrived on the Ayreshire on 25 October 
1841. her two children John, 7, and Anne, 5, were 
sent to the Orphan School when her husband was 
unable to care for them. 

Himalaya (smallpox) 

Aorangi 1930 & 1935 

SS Mariposa was quarantined for five days in February 1 888 for cleansing purposes because of smallpox on 
the voyage from San Francisco. The rock carving states; 

Let weary travellers listen we tell 
The awful treatment that to us befell 
On the Mariposa many were our woes 
Is a mercy we haven't turned up our toes. 






• 4 ' 

4 . 




4 - 


4 - 




7 - 



Sky . . . Ocean 

I was shocked to be struck down by the disease. 
Moreover the doctor is helpless to control sickness. 
Feeling pessimistic and despondent. 

I am not used to maintaining hygiene yet. 

If you asked me the feeling about the voyage. 

I shall persuade you never to come here for pleasure. 
Wish you a good and a long life. 

Xie Ping De, a resident of HE County 
Early Summer, Ding Ji Year (1917) 

Reproduced from Translations of Rock Carvings at North Head Quarantine Station, 
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 

Conflicts & Epidemics 


Archbishop Kelly and ‘An Impious Refusar 

Amongst the Army nurses who became infected with influenza while caring for 
troops landed from the Medic were Annie Egan, 27, and Ehzabeth McGregor, 33. 
Annie Egan, formerly from Emerald Hill, was a nurse in private practice in Sydney 
when she volunteered for service at the Station. She became infected on 26 November, 
1918 and died on 5 December. Ehzabeth McGregor, an Army nurse originally from 
Cobar, became infected on 29 November and died on 5 December 1918. 

As was the practice in the case of all soldiers who died at the Station in this 
period, both nurses were buried with full military honours by the quarantined 
servicemen. Much to Sergeant Dill’s regret, he was too weak to make the long 
walk to the Third Burial Ground, but many of the quarantined troops and the 
Station’s staff attended the burials, some bringing wreaths made from wild flowers 
growing in the bush at North Head to place on the graves. 

Annie Egan’s burial service was conducted by another Catholic nurse, at the 
request of her relatives. In Annie Egan’s last days, she had pleaded for a visit from 
a priest to hear her confession but her pleas had been refused, and all that the priest 
could do was send a message to her that a Requiem Mass would be held for her soul. 
When this refusal became known, the strong feelings of pity and indignation it aroused 
in the community made the admission of clergymen to the Station a public issue. 

At a Mass held for the nurse in St Mary’s Cathedral on 6 December, Archbishop 
Kelly denounced the ‘impious refusal’. Questions were asked in parliament and, in 
a published letter. Judge Heydon asked if it was to be tolerated that the Station’s 
door was to be open to those who treated the body and closed to those who 
would help the soul.“ 

The long tradition of allowing clergymen to visit and, in some cases, to reside at 
the Station to comfort quarantined people had been stopped when the Station was 
transferred to the control of the Federal Quarantine Service, on the grounds that 
it placed clergymen at risk and that, if they became infected, the disease was kept 
alive and the quarantine prolonged.The clergy were unimpressed by the arguments, 
and on 8 December Archbishop Kelly sent a telegram to the Acting Prime Minister 
advising of his intention to seek entrance to the Station at the Darley Street gate. 
On 9 December the Archbishop, accompanied by the Administrator of St. Mary’s 
Cathedral and other Church officials, and equipped with a portable altar and a sleeping 
kit, was driven to the gates where in the presence of a large, supportive crowd he 
demanded admission from the sergeant of the guard on duty. Admission was refused 
and the Archbishop, ‘seeing the futility of dialogue’, shook hands with the guard and 
left after announcing that he intended to appeal to the Imperial Government.^^ 

Capitulation came on the following day when the Acting Minister for Customs 
informed the House of Representatives that clergymen would be admitted under 


In Quah^ntine 

certain conditions, which included inoculation before entry and isolation after 
visiting a patient. Soon afterwards, Father Peoples entered the Station to provide 
spiritual comfort to four patients landed from SS Makura}^ 

The Break-Out of Troops from the Argyllshire, 1919 

When the Argyllshire arrived in Port Jackson on 7 February 1919, the 1 040 troops 
on board (who included a number of ANZACS and ‘1914 men’) had already 
experienced every possible delay on their journey around the Australian coast. 
Some, including war invalids, who had been transferred from the Nestor, had been 
forced to load coal during a wharf labourers’ strike in Albany. Adding to all kinds 
of other disappointing delays, the Argyllshire had been quarantined in Melbourne 
for some days. On arrival in Port Jackson, to the dismay of the homesick men, another 
quarantine period was imposed during which daily thermomter parades were held. 
On 9 February a soldier who had joined the ship in Melbourne showed symptoms of 
the dreaded influenza with the inevitable implication of further delays in quarantine. 

The ship had been ordered to anchor off Nielsen Park and the closeness to 
shore proved too tempting. As the news of the presence of influenza spread through 
the ship on 9 February, some of the troops tried unsuccessfully to raise the anchor 
and to get up steam to bring the ship into a Sydney wharf. When this failed, 42 
men commandeered three lifeboats. Two boats reached shore, but the third was 
intercepted after a chase by a police launch. Eventually all the escapees were rounded 
up (two from as far afield as Maitland and Newcastle, who were immediately 
isolated in Waratah Hospital).^® 

At a special meeting of the New South Wales Cabinet, Dr Reid recommended 
that the troops be sent to Liverpool Army Camp. But partly because of some 
difficulty in arranging a guard and partly because of a over-optimistic report that 
there was adequate accommodation for 2 000 soldiers at the overcrowded Station, 
the Cabinet rejected Reid’s recommendation, pointing out that the disposal of the 
Argyllshire’s troops was the responsibility of the Quarantine Authorities. Accordingly 
the decision was taken to land the troops at the Station. 

When disembarkation began at Spring Cove on 10 February, a claim that 
‘everything had been arranged’ was found to be incorrect. The men had to 
walk about a mile up the hill carrying tents and kits, and then clear scrub, dig 
trenches and erect tents. There were no sanitary arrangements, water had to 
be carried from a considerable distance, rations were in short supply and there 
were no cooking facilities. To make matters worse, the place was alive with 
snakes which slithered into some tents at night, inducing some of the troops 
to spend the night on the wharf. It was claimed that 60 snakes were killed on 
the first night when, according to one soldier, ‘a snake crawled onto my face 

Conflicts & Epidemics 


as soon as I turned in. My mate, who had shell-shock, crawled up the tent 
pole and squatted on the cross-bar all night. We couldn’t get him down. He sat 
up there mumbling to himself.’” 

On 1 1 February, some 900 soldiers decided that they had put up with enough. 
They packed up their kitbags, broke through demarcation barriers, and marched 
to the Station’s Manly gate, where two Police inspectors in charge of a police 
cordon persuaded them to remain while they consulted with the military authorities. 
On learning that the men were determined to leave the Station, Major-General 
Lee sent the ferry Bellubera to the Manly wharf to bring the men to Sydney, where 
he promised to meet them and listen to their complaints. 

The troops marched to the wharf in perfect mihtary order under the command 
of their NCOs. and were met by General Lee at Fort Macquarie, where six NCOs 
presented the men’s complaints. Lee undertook to do all he could for the men, but 
refused their request to go to Victoria Barracks, telling them sternly that he would 
not allow the ‘tone’ ofVictoria Barracks to be lowered by the presence of troops 
who behaved in such an unsoldierly manner. Instead he directed them to proceed 
to the Sydney Cricket Ground where they would be quarantined for three days 
only, provided the disease did not appear amongst their ranks. 

Wearing face masks which were compulsory in Sydney, and accompanied by an 
escort of 50 policemen, the soldiers (90 percent of whom were war invalids) marched 
at a smart pace along Macquarie Street, up Oxford Street and on to Moore Park. 
Along the way, fruit, soft drinks, tobacco and newspapers were given to them 
some sympathetic bystanders. But in the Sydney Morning Herald on 12 February 
1919, a reporter commented that a cheer for the returned soldiers was as rare as a 
snowflake in the Sahara, and quoted an overheard conversation which captured 
the mens’ disillusionment: ‘ “Did they have a welcome prepared for us?” asked 
one marching soldier somewhat wistfully. “Yes”, he was told, “motors, bands, 
refreshments, relations waiting at the Buffet, and all the rest of it”. The soldier 
looked about him, at the lines of weary foot-sloggers, at the police guards, the 
silent, curious crowds, and made some remark to himself. It sounded like 
“strewth” ’. 

Under normal circumstances it seemed unlikely that soldiers who had endured 
the misery of trench warfare would have found conditions at the Station so 
intolerable as to break out of quarantine and risk military punishment. But the 
apparent indifference at home to their welfare had been the final straw in a series 
of disappointments. This seems to have been recognised by their general who, 
although he castigated the men, was reasonably forbearing. 

More than one hundred men, mostly officers, had not participated in the 
break-out and, after some improvements were made in their living conditions, 
they declared that they were perfectly satisfied to remain there. 


In Quahj^ntine 

The Commonwealth Department of Health 

While the Station’s staff battled heroically to prevent the spread of disease from 
ships to shore, its role as part of the Australian Quarantine Service was being further 
shaped by Dr Cumpston. Following the adoption of Dr Norris’ report on Australia’s 
quarantine requirements in 1912, existing Australian quarantine stations had been 
upgraded and new stations and procedures established under Cumpston ’s supervision.^’ 

From the time Cumpston assumed office as Federal Director of Quarantine he 
was resolute in his aim to take over control of quarantine administration in all 
Australian quarantine stations, as had been authorised under the Constitution Act. 
However, to achieve these aims, the Federal Quarantine Service required 
considerable co-operation from state health authorities, and on the whole this had 
not been achieved. In a time of crisis, these various authorities tended to pursue 
their own paths, rather than seek a common direction. When it again became 
apparent during the influenza epidemic that there was a ‘very great diversity of 
action amongst the States. ..and also a complete disregard of the resolutions agreed 
upon’ at a joint conference held in November 1918, Cumpston decided to 
recommend the establishment of a central Commonwealth Health Authority with 
powers over a wide area of public health administration.^® 

Cumpston’s vision of this central authority embraced the view expressed by 
Dr. H. G. Alleyne, Health Officer of Port Jackson, to the Select Committee on 
Quarantine Laws in 1 853, that ‘the only mode of rendering our system of quarantine 
more efficient, is to make our code of health more perfect, and not to allow the 
protection afforded by wise and common-sense precautions of Quarantine to be 
weakened by the laxity of all other sanitary rules’.^* He viewed quarantine as a 
part of a total system of public health and preventive medicine which aimed to 
improve the health of Australian people, and in pursuit of this aim he wrote to the 
Minister of Trade and Customs on 8 January 1919 submitting a case for the 
establishment of ‘a definite Ministry of Quarantine and Public Health’. 

In a community suffering from the effects of pneumonic influenza and disturbed 
by variable state and federal actions in matters relating to public health, there was 
reluctant support for the concept of a central health authority. On 7 March 1921, 
the Commonwealth Department of Health was created by an order-in-council 
and Cumpston was placed in charge of the new department as Australia’s first 
Director-General of Health. 

The role selected for the new government department was a co-ordinating 
one, in which it would supervise research and subsidise state governments in disease 
eradication measures. Importantly it was given control over quarantine 
administration and therefore all quarantine stations.The Station was about to become 
part of a new Commonwealth Department of Health. 

Conflicts & Epidemics 


Plan of the Quarantine Station, 1918. . 

(reproduced with the permission of the National Parks and WUdlife Service from a map drawn by Travis 

Partners Pty Ltd, from Site plan B 115B Com Dept of Works and Railways) 

Hotpllil arsa: 

HI-2 Wards 

H3 Changing Block 

H4 Doctors’ and nurses' quarters 

H5 Kitchen 

H6 Mortuary 

HI 2 Nurses' quarters 

HI 3 Incinerator 

H14 Store and cooks' quarters 

Observation Block: 

H7 Kitchen and cooks' quarters 
H8-11 Wards 

HIS Emergency accommodation 
Contacts arsa: 

PI -2 Quarters (first-class) 

P3 Smoking room “ 

P4 Meat room 

PS Dining room (first-class) 

P6 Kitchen and cooks' quarters 
P7 Ladles' sitting room 
P8 Stewards' quarters 
P9 Quarters ( first-class) 

P10 Smoking and dining rooms 
Pf 1-12 Quarters (second-class) 
Lyne's buildings 

PI 3 Kitchen and Cooks' Quarters 
P14-16Aslatlc Quarters 
PI 7 Store 

PI 8 Asiatics' Kitchen 
P32 Asiatics Latrines 
PI 9-23 Quarters(thlrd-class) 
P24-25 Bathrooms and lavatories 
P26 Kitchen 

P27 Dining Room and Kitchen 
P28-31 Lavatories 

Administration and General: 

A1 Office 
A2 General Store 
A3 Staff Dormitory 
A4 Staff Kitchen 
AS Waiting Rooms 
A6 Power House 
A7 Disinfecting Block 
A8 Formalin Chamber 
A9 Steam Laundry 
AID Coal Shed 
All -12 Bathing Blocks 
(first, second and third-class) 
A13 Boat Shed 

A14-17 Luggage and Doctor's Room 
A18 Locomotive Shed 
A19 Gaol 
A21 Blacksmith 

A22 Kerosene Store 

A23 Vehicle Shed 

A24 Stables and Coachouse 

A25 Post Office 

A26 Receivng Shed 

A27-8 Benzine and Bedding Stores 

A29 Carpenter's Shop 

Staff Quarters: 

A1-2 Residences 
S3-14 Residences 
A20 Dining Room 

LI Second Burial ground 
L2 Reservoir 
L3 Flagpole 
L5-6 Jetty 

L7 Locomotive turntable 
L9 Constitution monument 



Within the Commonwealth Department of Health 

Within the newly established Commonwealth Department of Health, all Australian 
quarantine stations and staff became part of the Division of Marine Hygiene. This 
department was responsible for maritime quarantine, the control of infectious 
diseases in mercantile marine, medical inspections of passengers and crew under 
the Immigration Restriction Act, sanitation in mercantile marine and medical 
inspection of seamen under the Navigation and Seamen’s Compensation Act.' 

The transfer of the Quarantine Station in Port Jackson in 1921 had no immediate 
effect on its staff, then consisting of the superintendent of quarantine, a foreman 
assistant, eight quarantine assistants, a foreman mechanic, an engine driver and a 
coxswain. In 1928, however, the title superintendent of quarantine was abandoned 
when P. E. Getting retired, and his successor, J.J. Drew, was classified as foreman 

The chain of command which had existed within the Federal Quarantine Service 
remained unbroken, with Dr C. W. Reid in control of the Station, answerable to 
Dr J. H. L. Cumpston as Director-General of Health. Reid had an extensive 
knowledge of quarantine administration, acquired as Health Officer of Port Jackson 
and then as Chief Quarantine Officer of New South Wales within the Federal 
Quarantine Service. He was a genial, kindly, unusually tall man, whose diagnostic 
skills were widely acknowledged. His long association with the Station ended 
tragically when he was drowned in Sydney Harbour on 3 November 1927 when 
the liner Tahiti collided with the ferry Greycliffe, in which he was returning home 
from his office in the Customs House. Until then, he supervised the integration 
of the Station into an Australia-wide quarantine organisation which was described 
by the Director of the London School of Hygiene in 1924 as possibly the most 
advanced and efficient in the world.^ 

By the time of transfer, the Station’s major building program which had begun 
in 1912 was mainly complete. There was accommodation for 1 180 people 
(passengers, doctors, nurses, cooks, laundresses, attendants, crew members, a barber 
and post office staff) in the buildings above Quarantine Beach, and for 28 passengers 
or crew at the Seamen’s Isolation Hospital for the treatment of venereal disease, 
above Collins Beach. The standard of accommodation varied according to the 

Changing Functions 


class of passenger travel. First-class passengers ■were provided with comfortable 
bedrooms, some furnished with four-poster beds, bentwood chairs and cedar chests 
of drawers. The dining rooms were well-equipped, with Wedgwood dinner sets in 
the first-class dining room inscribed with homilies such as eat thy food with a 
thoughtful heart'. All passengers had access to facilities such as tennis, deck tennis, 
quoits, swimming and fishing, and space was provided for dancing and concerts. 
Stewards and cooks were sent to the Station by the ship’s agents who met the cost 
of the quarantine.^ 

The new funicular railway system allowed luggage to be transported from the 
wharf into the Disinfecting Block, thence to the passenger quarters. The bathing 
block, which was supplied with hot and cold water and disinfecting solutions, had 
24 bathing cubicles for first-class passengers and 50 cubicles for second- and third- 
class passengers, allowing 74 people to have disinfecting showers at the one time. 
There was also a modern steam laundry where equipment included a ‘washer 
machine’, hydro-extractor, steam drying room, steam mangle, calorifier, and an 
ironing stove for heating irons. Disinfection of mail and parcels was undertaken in 
a large disinfector cabinet (9x 6x8 feet) using formalin, cyanide or sulphur dioxide 
fumigation, in the Station’s Post Office. 

The Observation Block could accommodate up to eighteen contacts who showed 
suspicious symptoms, and a well-equipped hospital could house up to 66 patients. 
There was a morgue, and a laboratory adjacent to the Hospital equipped with 
benches and lockers, autoclaves, a steriliser, an incubator and a specially constructed 
wire pen for small animals used for laboratory testing.^ The Commonwealth Serum 
Laboratories in Melbourne were available, if required, and from 1930 onwards the 
laboratory facilities of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at the 
University of Sydney were also available.* 

The usefulness of the Station’s new laboratory was demonstrated during the 
quarantine of the Dutch steamer Tasman in 1927. By then an international 
information network existed to warn countries of an impending threat of infectious 
disease, so that advice of an outbreak of cholera on the Tasman was cabled to the 
Department of Health by the Chief Health Officer in the Netherlands East Indies. 
A medical officer and a laboratory assistant from the Commonwealth Serum 
Laboratories were immediately sent to the Station to carry out a bacteriological 
investigation of the crew and passengers on arrival. 

When the Tasman arrived on 5 November 1927, the customary visual medical 
inspection was carried out. This required all on board to file past the port’s medical 
officer while rolling sleeves to the elbows and raising hats (if worn) to allow a clear 
view of faces and forearms for any signs of sickness.There were no obvious signs of 
cholera but as a precaution, a Javanese fireman who had been sick during the 
voyage was isolated in the Station’s hospital.* 


In Quarantine 

On the following morning the passengers and crew (except for the anchor 
watch) were landed, and all green vegetables, fruit and galley refuse were destroyed 
in the Station’s incinerator. A medical examination on shore indicated the need for 
a bacteriological examination of eight passengers, all the Chinese and Javanese 
crew, and any of the ship’s officers who had suffered gastrointestinal disturbances 
during the voyage. 

In the case of the Asiatic crew, the medical officer decided that unless he personally 
obtained each rectal swab, there would be no certainty that all had been tested. 
Accordingly on Sunday 6 November the crew were marshalled in small groups outside 
the morgue, doubdess in a state of considerable perturbation. Each swab was passed 
through a sliding glass window to the laboratory assistant in the adjoining laboratory, 
and by 5 p.m. all the specimens had been packed into the laboratory’s incubator. 

On the following morning, seven tests showed suspicious results and a woman 
passenger and six crew members were isolated in the Observation Block. However, 
further tests showed no evidence of cholera and from 8 November people were 
released progressively from quarantine, some remaining under medical surveillance. 
Before the Tasman was released, all water tanks had to be emptied and the fumigating 
barge was brought up from the Quarantine Depot at Berrys Bay to fumigate the 
ship and cargo with sulphur dioxide.’ 

In 1928 the Station came under the control of Dr A. J. Metcalfe, who succeeded 
Dr Reid as the Chief Quarantine Officer (General) in New South Wales. 
Appreciating the need to preserve the Station’s history, he gave instructions that 
the gravestones which had been removed from the First Burial Ground in 1853, 
and any others in the Second Burial Ground which showed signs of deterioration, 
be placed under shelter.The gravestones in the second Burial Ground were replaced 
with inscribed brass plates, but most of these were stolen over the following years.* 
In an effort to standardise quarantine procedures, a comprehensive manual on 
standard quarantine procedures was compiled by Metcalfe for the guidance of 
quarantine staff and a guide to Quarantine Orders was also published, detailing 
resolutions and procedures.’ 

Some impression of life at the Station in the 1920s and early 1930s has been 
provided by Mrs M. G. Worthington, the daughter of Quarantine Assistant 
Woodward in the following words: 

Active quarantines were something to be seen to be believed... People 
ebbed and flowed around the grounds, some disgruntled at being kept 
for the incubation period, but others loving it. People took disinfected 
showers and none of the staff or anyone was allowed in or out.. .the 
place became alive with electricity from our own generator [electricity 
came when the North Head Artillery Barracks were built]. Until then 
we had huge, soft, kerosene lamps and a fuel stove and grates for winter 

Changing Functions 


fires in the bedrooms. Our house was quite good, 3 bedrooms etc. and 
still looks good for 8 shillings per week and kept in order by the 
Government, but gardens were out the bandicoots ate everything. 

The way we entertained ourselves in the evening was by music — ^piano, 
violin and singing — card-playing with some of the men firom the 
Barracks and visitors always eager to walk about and see the views.'® 

Her comment that some people were disgruntled by their quarantine while others 
loved it, was well illustrated during two quarantines of the Aorangi in 1930 and 1935. 

*A Terrible Place*, 1930 

The Aorangi, which had landed a smallpox case in New Zealand, was quarantined 
for cleansing purposes on arrival in Port Jackson. When the ship anchored in 
Spring Cove at 4.40 p.m. on 28 February 1930, she was immediately boarded by 
Dr Metcalfe and three other doctors in order to take medical histories and check 
smallpox vaccinations. Before going on board, Metcalfe instructed Foreman Assistant 
J. J. Drew that no passengers were to be landed until he was assured that the 
evening meal had been prepared. However, while 27 cooks waited for the arrival 
of provisions so that cooking could commence. Drew received a message from 
what purported to be an official source but which could not later be identified, 
that 145 first-class passengers were to be landed at 7 p.m., followed by 72 second- 
class, and then 33 third-class passengers. 

Drew had deployed his staff to cope with the influx as best he could: five 
quarantine assistants were on duty at the wharf to help passengers with their luggage, 
one was stationed in the engine room attending to the boilers and the generating 
plant, one was detailed to escort passengers up the hill to their quarters, one to 
issue stores, another to cart supplies to the kitchen, and engine driver Christie 
manned the locomotive to haul stores and luggage. Later one of the men was re- 
deployed to warn passengers as they crossed the rail tracks in the dark on their way 
to their quarters. 

Despite Drew’s efforts, as the numbers of people landed on the wharf in darkness 
grew, so also did the confusion. As late as 12.30 p.m., the harassed foreman assistant 
and his staff were still sorting out accommodation problems for some of the tired, 
disgruntled passengers. Adding to Drew’s perplexity, he found ‘to his surprise’ on 
checking the second-class quarters at 10.15 p.m., ‘one Chinaman, three families of 
Samoans, two Hindoos (a married couple) and one Sikh’. 

Since the Station’s beginnings, Asians had been separated from Europeans, at 
first in tents, then in the Asiatic dormitories which had been erected in 1903 for 
crews members and which provided divisions where races and castes could be 
separated if necessary. In a place where official forms used to allocate accommodation 


In Quarantine 

in the first-, second-, and third-class areas were headed ‘Accommodation for White 
Passengers’, Drew was in something of a quandary to know how to deal with the 
Asian passengers from the Aorangi}^ 

To Drew’s credit, he did not attempt to move these people to the Asiatic Block, and 
instead kept them together as a group and moved some other second-class passengers 
to another location, apparendy to provide some vestige of segregation. But his decision 
affixmted at least one first-class passenger, golfing champion J. H. Kirkwood, who told 
a newspaper reporter: ‘1 was born in Australia and I always thought that it was a white 
country but when I have seen Chinamen, Indians and Fijians with the same bathing 
and toilet facilities as white men in this Quarantine Station, I cannot help having a 
feeling of disgust’.*^ Racist attitudes were not the only cause of complaint. According 
to another passenger, the Station was ‘a terrible place’, infected with fleas and cockroaches, 
the beds were too hard, the food poor and, ‘apart fiom insects, the only thing that vras 
plentiful were medical examinations’.*^ 

Some days later, the Minister for Health acknowledged that an investigation 
had shown that most of the complaints about the condition of the place had been 
justified, that the landing of the passengers at night had been a grave mistake and 
the resultant confusion was without excuse. He stated that such incidents would 
not occur again. Mercifully Drew’s head did not roll in the aftermath, although no 
doubt there were recriminations. 

*One Continuous Picnic*, 1935 

In complete contrast, when the Aorangi was again quarantined from 25 January to 
12 February 1935 because one of the ship’s stewards showed smallpox symptoms, 
the quarantine was described by some of the passengers as ‘one continuous picnic 
with surfing and games during the day and dancing and bridge at night’. Some 
released passengers told reporters that they envied those who remained, as everything 
at the Station was ‘such fun’. Even a brief strike amongst the ship’s stewards over 
claims for penalty rates was treated as an amusing diversion, and female passengers 
who included the daughter of the Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, prepared 
the evening meal with assistance from male passengers.*^ 

For most passengers, the 1935 quarantine was a novel, interesting experience in 
which even the disinfecting showers were ‘not in the least unpleasant’. Although 
movement throughout the Station was restricted by yellow flags marking boundaries 
between classes of accommodation and by a high stone wall topped with broken 
glass on the Manly side, there were plenty of social activities within the designated 
areas. An article about the Station written by a passenger, Mrs Isabel Brierley, 
captured the carnival spirit by quoting the following verses which had appeared in 
a Sydney newspaper during the quarantine: 

Changing Functions 


Oh to be in quarantine now that Summers here, 

Phoning to your friends at work, sending out for beer; 

Bathe by day and bridge by night, life of endless play. 

Oh to be in quarantine, banking up your pay.‘® 

The passengers’ cheerful acceptance of their quarantine probably said more about 
the holiday spirit which had prevailed on the prior journey than any marked 
improvement in the Station’s procedures. But of some significance was the fact 
that quarantines were no longer feared as life- threatening events. An outbreak of 
an infectious disease seldom involved more than a few people and developments in 
medicine usually brought the outbreak under quick control. After 1919 only two 
people died at the Station — a crew member who died from tuberculosis when the 
Tasman was quarantined in 1925 for suspected cholera, and a passenger who died 
from a liver complaint when the Strathmore was quarantined in 1962, also for 
suspected cholera. 

Diminishing Quarantines and Boundaries 

The establishment of new quarantine stations, particularly at Thursday Island, the 
development of existing stations and the more coordinated approach to quarantine 
throughout Australian ports lessened the use of the Station, and from 1921 to 
1973, there were only 55 quarantines (excluding vessels which simply unloaded 
cargoes for disinfection), distributed as follows’*; 

1921 - 5 

1927 - 2 

1933 - 6 

1949 - 1 

1922 - 10 

1928 - 1 

1935 - 1 

1952 - 1 

1923 - 5 

1929 - 2 

1937 - 1 

1962 - 1 

1924 - 1 

1930 - 2 

1938 - 1 

1973 - 1 

1925 - 2 

1931 - 2 

1942 - 2 

1926 - 4 

1932 - 2 


Although quarantines were few, the task of fumigating cargoes which might be 
carrying diseases such as anthrax, foot and mouth disease, boll weevil, etc., stiU 
kept the foreman assistant and his ten members of staff very busy. In 1936, for 
example, 3 017 bales of cotton and 468 cases of bristles were fumigated over 106 
days. Each bale of cotton weighed between 400 and SOOlbs, requiring careful 
handling to avoid accidents, and each case of bristles contained hundreds of bundles 
which had to be individually unv^apped and repacked after disinfection. In 1955, 
disinfection figures were: wool-729 bales, goat hair-764 bales, jute-186 bales, 
bristles-66 cases, plants-189 lots, seeds-229 bags; an additional 3 485 pieces of 
^^88^8^ from 48 vessels were disinfected for foot and mouth disease.’^ 


In Quarantine 

By the 1950s the Station’s boundaries had been substantially diminished. When 
the Station was transferred to Commonwealth control on 5 July 1909 the land 
reserved for quarantine purposes covered 670 acres, although less than half was 
used as quarantine ground. On 21 June 1917, following trespass by some fishermen, 
the boundaries of the Station had been extended to include shore lands between 
the high water mark and a line 600 links below, and on 11 November 1920 the 
boundaries were again redefined following the transfer in 1918 and 1920 of 12 
acres to the state government as a site for Manly Hospital. In the early 1930s, an 
Army Artillery Barracks was erected on an area annexed for a Defence Reserve, 
effectively separating the Third Burial Ground from the Station. 

Following a request in 1929 from the state government that the public reserves 
be made available for use as a public park, the Commonwealth Government offered 
the state 350 acres for use as a public park, at a ‘peppercorn rental’ of ^1 per 
annum so as not to obviate the Commonwealth’s entitlement to the land.'* A 
condition of the offer was the erection of a high stone wall between the park and 
the Station, but difficulties arose over the Manly Council’s powers under the Local 
Government Act to spend -the estimated 000 on the project. The cost was 
eventually taken over by the state government, which voted an amount of ;,(]15 000 
for a comprehensive scheme involving building roads and walls throughout North 
Head, providing much-needed employment during the Great Depression. Parkhill 
Reserve was officially opened on 3 June 1933.” By proclamation in the 
Commonwealth Gazette on 12 October 1939 a further area was taken over for 
defence purposes, reducing the Station’s area to about 120 acres. The area eventually 
transferred to the government of New South Wales when the Station was closed 
in 1984 was about 27 hectares. 

In late 1935, a gate-keeper’s cottage was erected at the gate leading to Manly, 
and in 1938 a new residence was erected for the Foreman Assistant.^* Electricity, 
formerly supplied by a generator on site, was connected to the main power supply, 
but otherwise expenditure on the Station was minimal. 

By the 1930’s, experience had shown that treatment for venereal disease could 
be better provided in special Sydney clinics. The Seamen’s Isolation Hospital was 
no longer used for its original purpose and with the coming of war it was taken 
over for military purposes. Thereafter it ceased to be part of the Station s 

The War Years 1939-45 

With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Station became primarily a 
military establishment, mainly occupied by troops in transit and by members of 
the Australian Women’s Army Service engaged in army intelligence work. The 

Changing Functions 


hospital wards were used from time to time as military convalescent wards, and in 
December 1942 the Lyne s buildings were used by prisoners of war in transit to 
detention camps. Quarantine staff remained in residence, fumigating cargoes 
whenever necessary, performing basic maintenance work, digging trenches and 
air-raid shelters, caring for the Station’s remaining horses and breeding bandicoots 
in the hatcheries adjacent to the stables for use by the Commonwealth Serum 
Laboratories in the preparation of anti-tick serum. 

In October 1940, 36 children who had been evacuated from England’s air-raid 
torn cities arrived on FLMS Batory after a hazardous voyage, and were cared for by 
the quarantine staff and civilian volunteers until homes could be found for them. 
In December 1942, over 100 Portuguese refugees from Timor were housed there 
before transfer to the migrant hostel at Hexham.^ 

The Quarantine of Aircraft 

In quarantine terminology until 1920, the word vessel meant a ship, boat or any 
other type of seagoing craft. Recognition of the need to include aircraft within 
the definition came with the arrival in Darwin on 10 December 1919 ofaVickers- 
Vimy aeroplane flown from England by Ross and Keith Smith. On the flight the 
aeroplane had landed in a number of places where diseases were endemic, and on 
arrival the Darwin Quarantine Officer, Dr J. Harris, had considerable difficulty 
holding back spectators until he was able to give a health clearance. On Harris’ 
recommendation, the definition of vessel was amended in the Quarantine Act to 
include any vessel or vehicle used in navigation by air.“ 

As air traffic became more frequent in the 1920s, the need to guard against the 
importation of disease became apparent. In 1933 an International Sanitary 
Convention for aerial navigation adopted a world code of conduct for air travel, 
comparable to that prescribed on sea and land by an earlier International Sanitary 
Convention held in 1926.The code was ratified by ten countries, including Australia, 
and came into force on 1 August 1935.^^ 

In New South Wales, all air travellers who arrived at first ports-of-entry (Kingsford 
Smith airport for land aeroplanes and Rose Bay for seaplanes) were required to 
produce current smallpox vaccination certificates. Those who arrived from places 
infected with cholera or yellow fever also needed inoculation certificates for these 
diseases. Passengers without the required certificates were liable for quarantine at 
the Station, but only one air traveller was quarantined up to 1949. 

When the Station reverted to its normal functions at the end of the Second 
World War, the buildings were shabby and neglected. Anticipating the need for 
proper quarantine facilities as commercial sea and air traffic grew. Dr C. R. Wiburd, 
Senior Commonwealth Medical Officer, recommended in 1946 that 785 


In Quarantine 

15s. 6d. be spent on repairs over the following four to five years, but only some 
minor work was approved.^* 

Successively in January and February 1951, 69 people who arrived on a KLM 
flight, 38 people on a BOAC flight and 66 people on a KLM flight were quarantined 
because of outbreaks on the flights of influenza type-A and dysentery. Patients 
were housed in the Observation Block under medical care and the contacts in the 
Lyne’s buildings, at the airlines’ expense. An article published in the Sunday Telegraph 
on 18 February 1951, entitled ‘It’s not so bad in Quarantine Bay’, likened the 
Station to ‘a sedate holiday camp in an off-season, awaiting guests’. Airline officials, 
however, were not so impressed. On 15 March 1951 the general manager of Qantas 
wrote to the Director-General of Health protesting that the accommodation was 
below standard, the dining rooms and lounges in need of decoration, the kitchens 
were old-fashioned, the crockery chipped, there was inadequate refrigeration and 
the telephone system was defective. His criticisms were endorsed by a Government 
Health Inspector, but again only a slight refurbishment was made.^* 

The decision to modernise was made in October 1955 when a report revealed 
the alarming extent of the Station’s deterioration. Amongst the criticisms were the 
poor quality of water supplied from the upper reservoir and the discharge of 
unfiltered effluent into the harbour. Costs of improvements were estimated as 
^126 890 but the Director-General of Health, Dr A. J. Metcalfe, had no doubt 
that the expenditure was necessary, and that accommodation was needed for about 
250 people at the Station ‘of modern and of first-class standard such as ship and 
aeroplane passengers are entitled to expect’.^’ 

The Modernisation Program 1957-61 

In May 1957 the task of modernising the Station began. Eleven buildings were 
auctioned on site and two others demohshed. Obsolete equipment such as the 
locomotive and trucks, the horse-drawn hearse and unused coffins were also sold. 
Buildings were re-roofed with coloured cement tiles, relined and refurnished. 
Amongst many improvements, wash basins were fitted in the bedrooms and hot 
water linked to the bedrooms and bathrooms, modern equipment was installed in 
the kitchen replacing the old fuel stoves and black iron pots over which so many 
cooks had slaved, and the water supply was linked to the Metropolitan Water and 
Sewerage Board’s main. In December 1958 the Observation Block, re-equipped 
to accommodate sixteen people, was ready for occupation and by 1961 the 
modernisation program had been completed at a cost considerably less than the 
estimates, since much of the work had been done by the staff. With some pride, it 
was reported that the Station had progressed from mid-Victorian antiquity to 
modern standards. 

Changing Functions 


The new accommodation provided for up to 250 people, but these numbers 
were never reached in the following years. The last quarantine involving a number 
of aircraft passengers occurred in 1972, when Australia experienced its greatest 
threat of cholera since the Dorunda was quarantined at Peel Island in Queensland 
in 1855. 

The episode began with the arrival of a Qantas Jumbo Jet at Sydney airport on 
4 November 1972 with 374 passengers on board. The plane had landed at various 
airports and food taken on board at Bahrain was apparently the source of the 
cholera infection. On arrival all passengers appeared healthy, but two days later 
one of the passengers was admitted to Prince Henry Hospital, where it was 
confirmed on 7 November that he was infected with cholera. Through the efforts 
of Dr R. R. Bull, N.S.W. Director of the Commonwealth Department of Health, 
all the passengers were traced, and 41 were found to be infected with cholera. 
Amongst three infected people who had proceeded to New Zealand, one died. In 
Sydney, 29 people were taken to the Station where tests at the School of Public 
Health and Tropical Medicine revealed that eleven were infected with cholera. In 
addition to medical staff, 30 nurses were sent to the Station to care for the 
quarantined people on a shift basis.” 

This was the last active quarantine involving a large group of people. In April 
1973 the Japanese tanker Sakaki Maru was briefly quarantined after a suspected 
smallpox case amongst the crew was removed from the vessel at Eden. His immediate 
contacts were landed at the Station, but the quarantine soon ended when the cause 
of his sickness was found to be a non-quarantinable disease which was treated in a 
Sydney hospital. 

By then the staff at the Station had been reduced to eight people: Foreman 
Assistant H. Lavaring, Mechanic R.Walker (later the Station’s last Foreman Assistant), 
Quarantine Assistants T. Beitzel, K. Palmer, J. Connolly, J .Cook and K. Beitzel, 
and Domestic Assistant B. Connolly. Their duties during the quarantine of the 
Sakaki Mam were described in the Station’s Diary as patrolling boundaries, 
fumigating the ship and her cargo of bristles, washing linen, and cleaning the 
buildings. For long periods the Station was unused. In 1973 the number of 
passengers quarantined because they were not able to produce current vaccination 
certificates against smallpox, cholera or yellow fever was 122, with an additional 
122 contacts, but by 1975 the number had decreased to 76, with 2 contacts.^® 

Non-Quarantine Functions 

As the numbers of quarantines declined, the Station was used on occasions for 
other purposes. One such use followed the devastation of Darwin by Cyclone 
Tracy in the early hours of Christmas Day 1974, when Dr Bull, together with 


In Quarantine 

fellow Directors of Departments of Health in other states, was asked to make 
arrangements for the care of injured and homeless people. Three nurses were 
immediately sent to the Station to set up a first-aid centre, and two cooks to 
prepare meals. By 9 p.m. on Boxing Day, 213 Darwin evacuees had been fed, 
clothed and allocated beds, some remaining at the Station for weeks until they 
were able to make other arrangements.^* 

In April 1975 the Station again provided emergency accommodation following 
the Australian Government’s decision to rescue as many as possible of the children 
housed in Vietnamese orphanages before enemy action reached Saigon. A medical 
team under the charge of Dr W. A. Langsford, Assistant Director-General of the 
Pubhc Health Division of the Australian Department of Health, flew to Bangkok 
to pick up the children, 74 of whom were taken to Melbourne and 215 to Sydney. 

On arrival in Sydney, 100 children were admitted to the Royal Alexandra Hospital 
for Children and the remaining children were taken to the Station, where two 
hospital wards were converted into a combined dormitory, eating area and medical 
examination centre. Twenty nurses cared for the orphans on a shift basis, with 
assistance from the Station’s staff and volunteers who includedVietnamese students. 
The children remained there for about thirteen days until homes could be found 
for them. Recalling this period. Foreman Assistant Roy Walker spoke of the way 
in which the children supported each other, and how if one child cried another 
would hold its hand. One bhnd child quickly learned how to lock the doors of the 
ward, causing some amusement and the occasional problem. Friendships were 
formed with the staff which continued for some time. 

In June and July 1977, the Station again provided temporary shelter for about 
125 boat people from Vietnam, and on a number of other occasions illegal 
immigrants were detained there until other arrangements could be made.^^ 

The Closure of the Station, 1984 

By the mid-1970s, the worldwide campaign sponsored by the World Health 
Organisation for the elimination of smallpox was being acknowledged as successful, 
and confident predictions were being made that smallpox would soon be eliminated 
in Ethiopia, the last country in which smallpox cases were still occurring.” 

Although the threat of smallpox and other quarantinable diseases such as plague, 
cholera, yellow fever, epidemic typhus fever and leprosy, appeared to be well under 
control, new highly infectious diseases had emerged in the late 1960s. In 1975 
Lassa fever and the Marburg virus disease were declared quarantinable diseases 
under the Quarantine Act. Both were acutely infectious and required exceptionally 
careful isolation and a level of medical care which could not be provided in existing 
traditional quarantine stations. 

Changing Functions 


Apart from medical considerations, there were strong economic arguments in 
favour of establishing a new central unit to handle highly infectious diseases, rather 
than upgrading existing quarantine stations at a cost which was estimated to be 
about $420 000. Following a review of quarantine arrangements and changing 
patterns of travel, trade and disease, the Minister for Health announced on 17 August 
1977 that Australia would adopt a new approach to quarantine and, as a first step, 
a high-security unit would be estabhshed at the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital 
in Melbourne at an estimated cost of $910 000, where diseases such as Lassa fever 
could be treated efficiently and safely. 

The Minister also announced that since the value of existing quarantine stations 
for isolation purposes had fallen, and it was not economically possible to upgrade 
them to provide the type of treatment required for new quarantinable diseases, 
they would be closed progressively. By 1981 the Station in Port Jackson was the 
only ‘traditional’ human quarantine station retained for public use 

On 5 November 1982, the new high security unit at Fairfield Infectious Diseases 
Hospital was opened for quarantine cases who could not be safely treated in existing 
state hospital facilities. At the same time a Vickers air transit isolator was delivered 
to the Station to allow special cases to be transported by chartered aircraft to the 
Fairfield unit. This was the last addition to the Station’s equipment as a functioning 
quarantine station.^® 

In the period leading up to the closure in 1984, there was intense speculation 
and lobbying regarding the future use of the site.The terms of the transfer agreement 
made between the state and Commonwealth governments in 1910 had made it 
clear that the Station reverted back to the state when it ceased its quarantine functions 
and, in the event, it was decided that the buildings and grounds should become 
part of the Sydney Harbour Park under the care of the National Parks and Wild 
Life Service (New South Wales). At the handover ceremony on 16 March 1984, 
the Prime Minister, R. J. L. Hawke, and the Premier of New South Wales, N. K. 
Wran, formally executed the transfer documents and promised that funds would 
be made available for the conservation of the Station as an important part of the 
Australian heritage. 

Despite the modernisation program for air travellers in the late 1950s, the Station 
stiU retains much of its original character as a maritime quarantine station, with its 
disinfecting and bathing blocks adjacent to the wharf where people were landed 
from quarantined ships, and roads leading to and from the shores of Spring Cove. 
More than a thousand rock carvings remain around the Station and at Old Man’s 
Hat, carved in sandstone by passengers and crews from vessels quarantined in Spring 
Cove. These carvings provide information about voyages and quarantines, some 
sardonically, some humorously, some indicating the perplexity of non-English- 
speaking people who found themselves trapped in a situation which they could 


In Quarantine 

not fully comprehend. On the shores of Spring Cove, traces of Aboriginal middens 
are reminders of earlier centuries, when Aborigines feasted on the shellfish which 
abounded on the rocks, and there were no sailing ships arriving in Port Jackson 
bringing sea-worn travellers and infectious diseases. 

More poignantly than any other of the Station’s historical records, the gravestones 
at North Head provide reminders of the perilous journeys on the overcrowded, 
insanitary, immigrant ships of the nineteenth century, and of epidemics of smallpox, 
bubonic plague and pneumonic influenza in Sydney in the late nineteenth and 
early twentieth centuries. Amongst the epitaphs, the message of faith in the future 
on one gravestone erected in 1838, when the causes of infectious diseases had yet 
to be discovered, seems equally relevant to the present time when the use of human 
quarantine stations has ended and ways are being sought to control new types of 
highly infectious diseases. 

The 1838 epitaph is inscribed on the gravestone erected by William Craigie 
over the grave of his beloved wife Elizabeth Logan, 43, who arrived from Scotland 
on the immigrant ship William Rodger on 26 September 1838 and died at the 
Station from typhus fever on 19 November 1838. Part of Elizabeth Craigie’s 
gravestone has been lost, and the words shown in brackets below are a possible 
version of the original inscription.^* But even if this version is not entirely correct, 
enough of the original remains to recognise its relevance: 

Toss’d thro tempestuous seas, the voyage [we made]. 

Pale we look back, & bless the friendly [breeze]. 

Our own strict judges, our past life’s [deeds], 

& ask if virtue has enlarg’d [their sphere]. 

If bright the prospect, we tho’ [fear]. 

Trust future ages & [in posterity believe]. 


STATION, 1837 - 1962 

Records of deaths at the Station before 1881 have been lost, and estimates of the numbers who died there 
before 1881 have been made from a number of sources of information. From these, it seems that at least 
572 people were buried at the Station, some 50 of whom died in Sydney during smallpox and plague 
epidemics and were brought to the Station for burial. Most of those buried at the Station in the nineteenth 
century were immigrants who died at the end of a long voyage under sail, within sight of a destination for 
which they had left their homeland with high hopes for the future. 

Three Burial Grounds were used from 1837 until 1925. An estimated 228 people were buried in the 
First Burial Ground (including three people who were buried in a site above Store Beach), an estimated 
102 in the Second Burial Ground, and a known 242 in the Third Burial Ground. Five people who died 
at the Station, including the last person to die there in 1962, were buried elsewhere. 

The following list shows the name of the quarantined ship and the date quarantined, the name of the 
person, his or her age (where known), the code for the cause of death, and the date of death (where 
known). Frequently there is some disparity between the spelling of names in official records and those 
shown on gravestones. Occasionally there is also a disparity in ages, suggesting that ages given to British 
emigration committees were sometimes lowered to meet the age limits set by assisted immigration 
regulations, but were shown correctly on the gravestones. 

Codes for Causes of Deaths 

f - fever (unspecified) 
m - measles 
p - bubonic plague 
pi - pneumonic influenza 
pp - pneumonic plague 
s - smallpox 
sf - scarlet fever 
u - unknown 

tf - typhus fever 
tdf - typhoid fever 
wh - whooping cough 

o - other causes; these include non-quarantinable 
diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, various 
causes with descriptions such as ‘wasting’ and 
‘diarrhoea’, and causes associated with childbirth 

The First Burial Ground 

This was used from 2 March 1837 until late May 1853 for the burial of an estimated 228 people of whom the 
following names have been identified. The site was located on the slopes above Quarantine Beach, and was 
chosen during the quarantine of the Lady MacNaghten in 1837, before the decision was taken to erect 
buildings on the high ground above. Because people quarantined on the Healthy Ground overlooked the 
Burial Ground, which was just below the buildings, the decision was taken to remove the gravestones, but 
not the graves, and to level the site in 1853. Later road construction work has further obliterated traces of 
the graves. 

— ex Lady MacNaghten, 26-2-1837: 

The ship was quarantined because of typhus fever; 
individual causes of deaths were not shown on the 
lists of deaths sent from the Station during the 

Dr John A. Hawkins (the ship’s surgeon- 
superintendent), 26, 2-3-1837; Janet Lapslie, 29, 
11-3-1837; Patrick Lynch, 28, 10-3-1837; Jane 

McMahon, 25, 24-3-1837; Jane Aberdeen, 17 
months, 6-3-1837; (baby) Brenan, 3 weeks, 
1-3-1837; Michael Costello, 1, 11-3-1837; 
Catherine Cox, 3, 10-3-1837; Daniel Daly, 3. 
9-3-1837; Charles Fitzgerald, 8, 7-3-1837; James 
Fitzgerald, 2, 3-4-1837; Mary A. McSweeney, 8, 
6-3-1837; Henry Tobin, 2, 8-3-1837; Ellen 
Murrane, 6, 6-4-1837. 


In Quarantine 

— ex John Barry, 13-7-1837: 

Margaret Spence, 1 , (o), 14-7-1837; Barbara Calder, 
3, (f). 20-7-1837; James Watt. 39. (tf), 26-8-1837; 
Mrs M. A. Hutchinson, 25, (tQ, 30-7-1837; 
Alexander Gordon, 29, (f), 4-8-1837; Mrs Beaton, 
3 1 , (f). 7-8-1837; George Clyne, 26, (f), 1 0-8-1 837; 
Donald Scott, 27, (f), 10-8-1837; James Stewart, 
3, (o). 4-8-1837; William Clarke. 35, (tQ. 
19-8-1837; George Scott, 42. (f), 20-8-1 837; John 
Veitch, 31, (f), 26-8-1837; (baby) Veitch, 3 weeks, 
(u). 17-9-1837. 

— ex Minerva, 23-1-1838: 

Hector McKelvie, 22, (tf), 25-1-1838; Mrs Mary 
McNeill, 32, (o), 28-1-1838; Mrs McNeill’s 
newly born daughter, 29-1-1838; Mary 
MacKinlay, 3, (tf), 29-l-1838;James Ogilvie, 25, 
(tf), 31-1-1838; Moritz Schneider (a German 
missionary), 26, (tf), 3-2-1838; Martha Lucas, 

18, (tf), 4-2-1838; Peter McNeil. 26, (tQ, 
5-2-1838; Duncan McArthur (2nd Mate 
Minerva), 42, (tf), 5-2-1838; David Dickson, 34, 
(tf), 6-2-1838; David Dickson. 12 months, (u), 
7-2-1838; Matthew Mitchell, 36, (tO. 7-2-1838; 
Alexander Sutherland, 37, (tf), 8-2-1838; Angus 
Stephenson, 35, (tf), 12-2-1838; Mrs Margaret 
Mackinlay Clark, 31, (o), 12-2-1838; Mrs Swan, 

19, (tf), 16-2-1838; Mrs Jane Eccles 
Cunningham, 32, (o), 20-2-1838; (baby) 
Cunningham, 11 months, (o), 20-2-1838; John 
Latta, (tf), 2-3-1838. 

— ex Amelia Thompson, 1-7-1838: 

Emma Stapely, 18 months, (u), 25-7-1838; (infant) 
Best, 12 months; Harriet Tinson, 12 months, (u), 
5-7-1838;Jane Playford,3, (u), 21-7-1 838; Harriet 
Wood, 4, (u);John George Headley, 19 months, 
(u), 26-7-1838. 

— ex Palmyra, 27-9-1838: 

Mahala Parker, 12 months, (o), 1-10-1838. 

— ex Maitland, 5-11-1838: 

Elizabeth Bowden, 39, (sf), 12-12-1838; Miah 
Millham, 6, (u); William Newhan, 9, (u); Sarah 
Winson, 17, (u); George Wenham(4), (u). 

— ex William Rodger, 26-9-1838: 

John Bannatyne, 29, (f); Archibald Bathgate, 28, (f); 
Jessy Beattie, 17, (f); Mary Ann Beattie, 19, (f); Mrs 
Buntine, 35, (f); John Buntine, 6 months (o); Mrs 
Brown, 30, (f); Edmund Bathgate, 9 months (o); Mrs 
Cameron, 22, (f); Mary Cameron, 18, (f);Tarbunon 
Caragan, 24, (f); Mrs Caragan, 22, (f); Duncan Clark, 
33, (f); Mrs Elizabeth Logan Craigie, 43, (f) 
19-11-1838; A. Ferguson, 1, (u); Agnes Fisher, 28, 
(o); Agnes Fisher, 2, (wh); (baby) Fisher (o); Jonathon 
Gardner, 34 (f); Captain John R. Hall (the ship’s 

master), 58, (f), 7-11-1838 ; Annie Hampton, 7, (f); 
William Harvey, 36 (f), 6-10-1838; Mrs Harvey, 
38, (f) 30-10-1838; David Hastings, 36, (f); William 
Hastings, 34, (f); Thomas Hastings, 1, (o); Horame 
Hamilton, 3, (o); Mary Hamilton, 1 (o); Alex 
Johnston, 22, (f); Isabella Madden, 26, (f); (infant) 
Kirkwood, 9 months, (o); Mrs. Livingstone, 28, 
(f); Andrew Miller, 5, (o); Hannah Maker, 24, (f); 
Alexander May, 40, (f); Robert McGaw, 32, (f); 
(infant) McGlaw, 10 months, (o); Mrs Niven, 28, 
(f); H. R. Niven, 4 months, (o); (infant) Robertson, 
8 months, (o); Robina Thompson, 29, (f); 
Mrs.Wardrop, 24, (f); (infant) Wardrop, 2, (o); 
John Sturgeon, 22, (f), 21-10-1838; Thomas 
Ferguson, 1, (o); Duncan Clark, 33, (f); Sarah 
Thompson, 1, (o). 

— ex Garrow, 2-3-1839: 

Ellen McAdam, 19, (u), 5-3-1 839; Mary Kirkpatrick, 
2. (u), 21-3-1839. 

— ex North Briton, 14-12-1839: 

M. M. Brady, 32, (tf), 17-12-1839; Margaret 
O’Neill, 26, (tf), 16-12- 1839; Thomas Cards, 28, 
(tf), 22-12-1839; George Fleming, 21, (tf), 
31-12-1839; (baby) O’Tool, 24 days, (o), 5-1-1 840; 
Elizabeth C. Lee, 2, (o), 9-1-1840; Mary O’Tool, 
36, (tf), 16-1-1840; Edward Sweetman, 1, (o), 
18-1-1840; Charlotte Fuller, 2, (o), 31-1-1840. 

— ex New York Packet, 23-10-1841: 

(Seaman) W. Adamson, (f), 26-10-1841; George 
Anderson, 37, (u), 5-1 1-1841; Mrs Elizabeth Kyle, 
(u); Mrs Alice Moss, (u); William Hosie, 37, (f); 

Daniel McNeill, (u); (baby) Elder, (u). 

A Site above Store Beach, 1841 

— ex Ayrshire, 25-10-1841: 

Elizabeth Ritson, 30, (u), 27-10-1841; Alfred Speed, 
19, (u); (both were buried some metres off the path 
leading from Store Beach to the Healthy Ground). 

— Quarantine staff: 

John Sandon, Superintendent of Quarantine, 
committed suicide on 15-1 1-1841 and was probably 
buried above Store Beach, near the graves of 
Elizabeth Ritson and Alfred Speed. 

First Burial Ground ( continued) 

— ex Agincourt, 1-3-1852: 

John Bradford, 30, (u); Sarah Bradford, 18, (u); 
Margaret Brien, 26, (u); Thomas Collins, 34, (u); 
Catherine Collins, 31, (u);James Donelan, 19 (u); 
Ellen Fogarty, 4, (u); David Sinamon, (u). 

Record of Deaths «fe Burials 


— ex David Mclver, 9-4-1852; 

Jane Blandford. 4, (u); (infant) Mercy Blandford, 
(u): (infant) Margaret Elliott, (u); Richard 
Kingwell, 23. (u); (baby) Montgomery (u); 
Rebecca Watson, 24, (u); Patrick Cullen, 22, (u); 
Thomas Roach, (u). 

— ex Kate, 10-10-1852: 

Johanna Sutton, 18, (u). 

— ex Ontario, 26-11-1852: 

(Seaman) Gilbert Smith, (f) ;John Ross, 15, (u). 

— ex Beejapore, 6-1-1853: 

(The vessel was quarantined because of scarlet fever, 
measles, and ‘fever of a typhoid kind’; individual 
causes and dates of death were not shown). Ellen 
Allender, 5; Edwin T. Alford, 3; Margaret Bourke, 
5; Bridget Bourke, 2; Ann Brown, 1; (infant) Mary 
J. Burnett; (infant) Alice Courson ; Mary 
Donaldson, 1; Anna Drayton, 24; Emily M. 

Drayton, l;Jane Fletcher, 19; Samuel Fish, 1; 
William Flint, 5; Robert Foster, 28; (infant) Annie 
M. Glyn ; Margaret Gould, 3; Margaret 
Gouldsborough, 30; Bridget Hallinan, 1; Ann 
Harvey, 23; Richard Harvey, 1; William H. Hird, 
1; Rebecca Hird, 35; Joseph Hird, 1; Joseph 
Howard, 4; Emma Joh, 7; Hannah Joh, 3; Mary 
Linnane, 3; Maria Lord, 3; Emily Lord, 1; John 
Luck, 3; Mary Ann Luck, 1 ; (infant) Arthur McGill; 
Alexander McKay, 16 months; Ellen McKey, 11 
months; Margaret Mair, 3; Honora Manning, 1; 
Gabriella N. Miles, 19; Ann Morrell, 25; Agnes 
Nixon, 1; Mary Purcell, 1; (infant) Van Purser; 
George Rockliff, 2; Harriet Sanderson, 4; Sarah 
Sanderson, 2; Marianne Swinfield, 44; William 
Swinfield, 3; Agnes Smith, 4; Mary Tassacar, 32; 
Jane Vaughan, 1; Marianne Wilson, 2; John Wright, 
4; Henry Wright, 2. 

— ex Trafalgar, 10-3-1853: 

Emma Hayes, 32, (u), 10-3-1853 

The Second Burial Ground 

This was used from June 1853 until the beginning of September 1881 for the burial of an estimated 102 
people. At least thirteen of these were Sydney residents who died either during a smallpox outbreak in 
1876 or a smallpox epidemic in 1881, a few were crew members of quarantined ships, and most were 
immigrants. The site, covering 1 acre and 11 perches, was located behind the buildings on the Healthy 
Ground. It was dedicated as an Anglican Cemetery on 26 September 1872. 

When the decision was taken in early September 1881, during the smallpox epidemic in Sydney, to 
cease using the Burial Ground, the site was banked over with lime and clay. In August 1928, all the 
gravestones with one exception were removed from the site and placed under cover for protection. The 
one remaining gravestone on the Burial Ground stands over the grave of Isaac Lowes, 6, who arrived with 
his parents on the immigrant ship, Smyrna, and died from scarlet fever on 25 August 1878. 

— ex David Mclver, 1-9-1853: 

(Baby) Ann Mackender, (u). 

— ex Ida, 3-2-1854: 

James Clarke, 19, (o), 6-2-1854. 

— ex Araminta, 22-7-1854: 

Joseph Amber, 34, (u), 2-8-1854 

— ex Constitution, 27-5-1855: 

Emily Cole, 2, (u); Thomas Godden, (u); Sarah 
Batchelor, (u);Jane Parvin, 29, (u); Arthur Stowers, (u) 

— ex Golconda, 25-5-1857: 

Alfred Chapman. 23, (f). 4-6-1857; Elizabeth 
Livock, 24, (tf); Albert Henry Whittock, 3 weeks, 
(o), 6-6-1857. 

— ex Forest Monarch, 21-12-1858: 

Mrs Yates, (u), 22-12-1858. 

— ex Wellington, 1-4-1859: 

(Baby) Arnold, 5 days, (o), 7-4-1859; Isabella Carr, 
27 days, (o), 10-4-1859; Margaret Gallagher, 17, 

— ex Lady Elma Bruce, 14-7-1859: 

Margaret Gallaher, 17, (f), 4-8-1859. 

— ex Fitzjames, 20-2-1860: 

Elizabeth McFarlane, 38, (0, 31-3-1860. 

— unidentified by ship of arrival: 

Walter V. Bagnall, 6 months, (u), 29-7-1861. 

— ex Peerless, 6-6-1866: 

Martha Rodgers, 31,(0. 

— ex Light Brigade, 31-5-1867: 

John Neill. 21, ( 0 , 5-6-1867; Martha Abbott, 20, 
( 0 . 2-7-1867. 

— ex Sea Nymph, 28-3-1868: 

(Seaman) Robert Minto, 22, (f). 29-3-1868; 
(Seaman) Charles Martin, 26, (0, 8-5-1868. 

— ex Devonport, 31-7-1868: 

Frederick Rice, 16 days, (o), 4-8-1868; Daniel 
McFadden, 22, (f). 22-8-1868; Mary Ann 
Doonan, 16, (0, 20-8-1868; Mary Biggs, 22, (f), 


In Quarantine 

— ex Hero, 5-7-1872: 

Joseph Sutcliffe, (sp), 13-7-1872; jane Ritchie, 45, 
(o), 17-7-1872. 

— Unidentifled by ship of arrival, possibly a 
relative of one of the staff: 

Bridget: Adams, 83, (o), 26-2-1876 

— ex Samuel Plimsoll, 19-8-1876: 

Anne Williams, 39, (o). 

— ex Portia, 16-6-1877: 

Unknown male, 30, (o), 17-6-1877; Bridget 
McDonald. 38. (o), 27-6-1877. 

— Sydney resident quarantined during the 
smallpox outbreak in 1876-7: 

Catherine Holden. 19, (sp), 6-1-1877. 

— ex Annie Smith, 12-7-1877: 

Mrs McDonald, 33, (u). 

— ex Australia, 4-1-1877: 

(Ship’s officer) Mr. Bryan, (sp). 

— ex T^burnia, 20-2-1878: 

John Dumphy, 6 months, (o). 

— ex Lochee, 24-2-1878: 

(Babies - twins) Ross, one 2 days old, the other 2 
weeks old, (u). 

— ex Northbrook, 10-3-1878 
William Brodie, 2, (m). 

— ex Smyrna, 19-8-1878: 

Mary A. McGuire. 7, (sf); Alexander Anderson, 18 
months, (sf); Isaac Lowes, 6, (sf). 25-8-1878; 
Thomas Conroy. 4, (sf), 21-8-1878. 

— ex La Hogue, 21-10-1878: 

Mary Carlyon, 33, (o); John D. Innes, 14 months, 
(m); Mary Erskine, 13 months, (m) 31-10-1878; 
jemima Rowbottom,6 months, (u);Sarah Chilton, 
6 months, (u). 

— ex Samuel Plimsoll, 12-6-1879: 

William Howe, 1, (o). 

— ex Pericles, 14-11-1879: 

Lily Dean, 18 months, (u), 14-11-1879; Margaret 
Templeton, (o); Isabella McCash, (u), 17-11-1879; 
John Buckley, (o). 

— ex Camperdoum, 9-6-1880: 

Pat Donovan, (u). 

— Sydney Residents quarantined during the 
1881 smallpox epidemic: 

Edward Rout, 46, (sp), 16-6-1881; Maud Hughes, 
6 months, (sp), 2-7-881; John Harris, 22, (sp), 7- 
7-1881; George Dougherty, 73, (sp), 12-7-1881; 
Mary Ann Fisher, 21, (sp), 14-7-1881; Caroline 
Wood, 6, (sp), 5-8-1881; Annie Moore, 9, (sp), 
5-8-1881 ; William Ward, 4, (sp), 6-8- 1881; 
Benjamin Charles Hutton, 32, (sp), 16-8-1881; 
Clement Lindsay. 34, (sp), 31-8-1881, Mary jane 
Rodgers, 23, (sp), 4-9-1881. 

The Third Burial Ground 

This was used from 12 September 1881 until 17 August 1925 for the burial of 242 people. An additional 
six people who died at the Station were buried elsewhere.The site is located some distance away from the 
Station in an area now occupied by the School of Artillery of the Australian Armed Forces. 

A number of World War 1 servicemen who returned on troopships when peace was declared, are 
amongst those buried in the Third Burial Ground, together with two Army nurses who became infected 
with pneumonic influenza while nursing troops landed from the Medic in 1918. There are also graves of a 
number of Italian Reservists who were on board the Medic, when the troopship returned to Sydney with 
pneumonic influenza on board. 104 graves are those of people who died during the plague epidemic in 
Sydney in 1 900. 

By official orden in September 1881, services were conducted at the time of burial either by a 
member of the Station's staff, or by one of the clergymen who often volunteered to reside at the Station 
during quarantines. Before then, the only persons usually present at a burial were the grave-diggers. 
Relatives and friends were not permitted to be present because of quarantine restrictions, but sometimes 
obtained permission to visit the site later and erect a gravestone. 

During the plague epidemic in 1900, orders were given that as short a time as possible was to elapse 
between the time of death and burial. This meant that bodies brought from Sydney to the wharf at 
Quarantine Beach, and the those of people who died at the Station, were often taken late at night or in 
the early hours of the morning, in a waggon drawn by one of the Station’s clydesdale horses along a bush 
track to the dark, desolate site, where the burial service was held by lantern light. 

Record of Deaths & Burials 


— Sydney residents quarantined during the 
1881 smallpox epidemic: 

Selina Elliott. 44. (sp). 21-9-1881; an Aborigine 
known as ‘Jimmy’, (sp). 21-9-1881; Frederick 
Southcott. 20. (sp). 27-9-1 881; James McNair. 36. 
(sp). 12-12-1881. 

— ex Garonne, 9-1-1882: 

Alice Amelia Foreshaw. 25. (sp). 17-1-1882; Ada 
Ellen Foreshaw. 8 days. (sp). 19-1-1882. 

— ex Illic, 15-1-1882: 

Christian Roslin. 42. (f), 14-2-1882. 

— ex Duchess ofArgyle, 5-2-1883: 

May Wilding. 4. (sf). 9-2-1 883; William Knight. 2. 
(sf). 14-2-1883. 

— ex Nerbudda, 28-3-1883: 

Mary Ryan. 3. (u). 

— ex AUanshaw, 2-5-1883: 

Richard Wray. 31. (o). 15-5-1883; Florence Simpson. 
6. (sf). 22-5-1883; Henry Griffin. 2. (sf). 22-5-1883. 

— ex Stirlingshire, 16-2-1884: 

Adam Kerr. 3. (sf). 3-3-1884. 

— Sydney residents quarantined in 1884-1885:- 
George Hammond. 28. (sp). 22-9-1884; John 
Casey. 34. (sp). 20-12-1884; Elizabeth Sawyer. 47. 
(sp). 25-12-1884; Joseph Franklin. 8. (sp). 

— ex Arab, 19-6-1885: 

Richard Perry. 26. (tdf). 23-6-1885. (Perry was a 
member of the Sudan Contingent, and his body 
removed by the Army for burial elsewhere) 

— ex Chimborazo, 5-7-1885: 

Kate O’Loughlin. 20 mths. (o). 9-7-1885; Marian 
Chiswell. 2. (o). 13-7-1885; Bertha Fiddler. 8 mths. 
(o). 21-7-1885; Harrie Williams. 6 mths. 21-7-1885 (o). 

— ex Parthia, 13-1-1886: 

Alexander Myles. 4. (o). 17-1-1886; Henry 
Loveloch. 2. (o). 21-1- 1886. 

— ex Energia, 4-6-1886: 

Isabella Cairns. 18 months, (o). 10-6-1886; Francis 
Yeoman. 16 months, (o). 14-6-1886; Bessie 
Montgomery. 3. (o). 17-6-1886. 

— ex Preussen, 26-12-1886: 

(Baby) Merchon. 14 days. (sp). 4-1-1887; William 
Mills. 22. (sp). 7-1-1887; Walter Funnell. 21. (sp). 
8-1-1887; Gervasio Partesana.31. (sp). 1 1-1-1887; 
Mary Moore. 26. (sp). 1 l-l-1887;Thomas Jenkins. 

31. (sp). 11-1-1887; Marian Christinson. 6. (sp). 
12-1- 1887; David Williams. 35. (sp). 12-1-1837; 
Kate Reid. 7. (sp). 12-1-1887; BeUa Reid. 18. (sp). 
1 2-1 -1 887; Rosina Walter. 1 2 months, (sp). 1 3-1-1887 ; 
Amelia Christinson. ISmonths. (sp). 13-1-1887; 
(Seaman) Herman Peters. 27. (sp). 23-1-1887. 

— ex Moyana, 15-3-1888: 

Chow Ling Shon. 48. (sp). 16-3-1888. 

— A Manly resident and the child of one of 
the Station’s staff: 

(Manly resident) lole Lakeman. 2. (sp). 6-4-1888; 
(Daughter of Quarantine Assistant).Violet Cornelius. 
5 weeks, (o). 9-11-1891. 

— ex Oroya, 20-6-1892: 

(Quartermaster) Albert Blake (Royal Navy). 30. (sp). 

— ex Taiyuan, 7-2-1894: 

Ah Yet. 39. (sp). 15-5-1894. 

— ex Orizaba, 1-5-1898: 

Sydney Burrows. 28. (o). 16-5-1898; Edmund 
Thurlow. 33. (sp). 26-5-1898. 

— The child of one of the Station’s staff: 
Sydney James Cornelius. 20 months, (o). 30-5-1 899. 

— Bubonic plague epidemic in Sydney 1900: 
(Cause of death is bubonic plague unless shoum otherwise) 
(Captain) Thomas R. Dudley. 49. 24-2-1 900; John 
Makins. 36. 27-2-1 900; John D. Madden. 25. 
5-3-1900; Robert Walker. 23. 6-3-1900; Frederick 
Dovey. 2. 9-3-1900; Lionel R. H. Owles. 16. 
11-3-1900; Edward Kelly. 39. 14-3-1900; Eleanor 
M. McCann. 14. 17-3-1 900; Henry O’Connell. 16. 
19-3-1900; Sidney C. Pepper. 19. 21-3-1900; 
Vincent Heaton. 24.21-3-1900; William J. Hayden. 
21 . 25-3-1 900; Walter Haynes. 25. 26-3- 1900; John 
Gates. 26. 27-3-1900; Oliver Bennett. 24. 
28-3-1900; Francis F. Jackson. 38. 29-3-1900; 
Frederick W Burns. 34. 3 1 -3- 1 900; George Cooper. 

I- 4-1900; James O’Reilly. 36. 1-4-1900; Andrew 
Mills. 24. 2-4-1900; Charles Wells. 19. 5-4-1900; 
Robert W. Smith. 48. 5-4-1900; George Nicholas. 
40. 6-4-1900; Elizabeth Langford. 60. 6-4-1900; 
Mary Rawlinson. 6. 7-4-1900; John Gaynor. 28. 
8-4- 1900; Mary Quinn, 34. 8-4-1 900; Arthur Yates. 
18, 8-4-1900; Frederick Boshell, 3, 8-4-1900; 
Moon Kee Chow, 9-4-1900; Arthur B. Bullock, 
23, 8-4-1900; Enoch Powell, 44, 10-4-1900; 
Oswald Munro, 16, 11-4-1900; Godfrey Rosen, 16, 

II- 4-1900; Charles Miller (or Parker), 22, 
12-4-1 900; James Vaughan. 27, 12-4-1900; Charles 


In Quarantine 

Kennedy, 45, 13-4-1900; William Davis, 36, 

12- 4-1900; Ebenezer J.Wakeham, 15-4-1900; 
John Haynes, 62, 1 5-4-1900; Edward Powell, 52, 

17- 4-1900; Hoong Wah, 25, 17-4-1900; John 
O’Neill, 32, 18-4-1900; Richard M. Curtis, 17, 
20-4-1900; Charles G. Roffey, 16, 22-4-1900; 
Annie Austin, 56, 22-4-1900; John McCarthy, 
45, 23-4-1900; Gunney Gooney, 23-4-1900; 
Jeannie G. Thompson, 15, 22-4-1900; George 
M.Burman, 57, 24-4-1900 ; Timothy Maher, 
25-4-1900; Frederick A. W. Branch, 4, 
25-4-1900; Florence Young, 12, 27-4-1900; 
William Evans, 21, 1-5-1900; Alice Lawler, 24, 
1-5-1900; Sarah V.O’Connell, 13, 2-5-1900; 
Margaret Whitehead, 40, 3-5-1 900; Thomas 
Stockdale, 35, 3-5-1900; Henry Butler, 59, 
3-5-1900; Mrs. Hogan, 3-5-1900; Peter Rafferty, 
16, 3-5-1900; Donald McLemon, 15, 5-5- 1900; 
Edmund Edmunds, 15, 7-5-1900; Gladys C. 
McAlloon, 5, 6-5-1900; Margaret Lawrence, 64, 
7-5-1900; Etienne Angele, 65, 7-5-1900; 
Catherine Henderson, 49, 8-5-1 900; John 
Hardwick, 53, 9-5-1900; Ah Hon, 26, 
10-5-1900; Arthur Walter Reid, 25, 11-5-1900; 
Harrie Sarina, 17, 1 1-5-1900; Michael Moloney, 
25, 11-5-1900; Stella Mary Patmore, 10, 

13- 5-1900; John I. Nutt, 28, 14-5-1900; Bow 
Yow (also known as Ah Gee), 28, 15-5-1900; 
David John Fatzeus, 20, 17-5-1900; Henry M. 
McDonagh, 20, 17-5-1900; Ah Hern, 

18- 5-1900; Bernard O’Sullivan, 19, 17-5-1900; 
Ah Chong, 38, 19-5-1900; James Doherty, 70, 

19- 5-1900; Joseph S. Redman, 45, 19-5-1900; 
William Cooper, 17, 20-5-1900; Lawrence G. 
Plant, 4, 2 1-5- 1900; William Walter Docksey, 27, 
22-5-1 900; James Munn, 31 , 22-5-1 900; Andrew 
O. Young, 24, 24-5-1900; Edward J. Edney, 47, 

25- 5-1900; Roger Drummond, 23, 30-5-1900; 
Patrick Butler, 55, 1-6-1900; Charles Henry 
Bennett, 17, 1-6-1900; James Miller Wilson, 7, 
3-6-1900; Richard Jones, 16, 3-6-1900; William 
H. Brown, 18, 4-6-1900; Lily Stephenson, 6, 
10-6-1900; David Apps, 50, 14-6-1900; Charles 
McKinley, 17, 16-6-1900; Michael Lonergan, 6 
weeks, 18-6-1900; Elizabeth Carter, 65, 

26- 6-1900; David WPerkins, 29, 27-6-1900; 
Patrick J. Clancy, 55, (u), 29-6-1900; George 
Ellis, 17, 28-7-1900; Robert West, 58, 

— ex Powona, 29-4-1900: 

Stanley Spratt, 19, (p), 5-5-1900. 

— ex Antillian, 2-3-1901: 

Claus Olsen, 19, (p). 3-3-1901. 

— ex Chingtu, 26-4-1901: 

Pte. Charles WSmart (a member of the N.S.W. 
China Brigade returned from the Chinese Boxer 
Rebellion), 22, (sp), 20-5-1901. 

— ex Ormuz, 27-4-1901: 

Lavella Handcock,5, (sp), 5-6-1901; Alice Blendell, 
5, (sp), 8-6-1901. 

— ex Ville de la Civtat, 6-12-1902: 

Ahmed Said, 27, (sp), 13-12-1902. 

— Sydney Residents and Station staff and 
families, 1901-1912: 

Edward J.Fury, 28, (o), 5-8-1901 ; Ernest Derrington, 
36, (p), 11-12-1901; Julia Fordyce Vincent, 51, (o), 
23-3-1902 (buried elsewhere); Mary Ann Edwards, 
26, (o) 26-3-1902, (buried elsewhere); Charles E. 
Cornelius, 9, (o), 1-7-1902; (Quarantine Assistant) 
William Hay, 54, (o), 19-11-1902; Sabina R. Miles, 
30, (pp), 30-6- 1906; John L. Christie, 4, (o) 12-6-07; 
Kathleen M. de Sturler, 28, (sp), 25-9-1911; Phyllis 
Hughes, 5, (m), 19-11-1912. 

— ex Otway 1-4-1910: 

Hector Spence, 35, (sp), 6-4-1910; Charles Bowie, 
35, drowned while fishing off the rocks (buried 

— ex Eastern, 11-10-1911: 

Koon Kwong, 36, (sp), 11-10-1911. 

— ex Gothic, 5-2-1913: 

Thomas C. Robertson, 3, (o), 5-2-1913. 

— ex Rangatira, 20-3-1913: 

E. Newman, 26, (u), 20-3-1913; George Reginald 
Braunton, 21 months, (u), 23-3-1913; Jack B. 
Freeman, 2, (u) 27-3-1913. 

— Sydney Residents and people unidentified 
by ship of arrival, 1913-1914: 

John B. Adonis, 42, (u), 13-5-1913; Mary Martin, 
29, (sp), 29-8-1913; Elsie Stone (also known as 
Grant), 33, (sp), 12-7-1914; Keith Slattery, 8 weeks, 
(o), 11-7-1914, (buried elsewhere); James Toohey, 
75, (sp), 31-7-1914 

— Tubercular Military Hospital at Station, 1918: 
Richard Treadway, 34, (o), 25-2-1918, (buried 

Record of Deaths & Burials 


— Pneumonic Influenza Epidemic, 1918-1919: 
Cause of death was shown in the Station’s Record 
of Deaths either as pneumonia or as influenza; 
names of vessels from which people were landed 
was not shown. 

— ex Medic, 21-11-1918: 

L/Cpl. Walter Hillingsworth McCroanan, 34, 
23-11-1918; Pte. John Henry Petherick, 25, 
25-11-1918; Pte. Frederick Thomas Morgan, 19, 
25-11-1918; Pte. George Wilson Ridley, 19, 
25-1 1-1918; Pte. Hector F. Hicks, 18,30-11-1918; 
Pte. Harry McKay, 26, 26-11- 1918; Pte. Robert 
Fairley, 19, 27-11-1918; Cpl. Thomas John Treacy, 

29, 27-11-1918; Pte. James M. Cahill, 28, 27-11- 
1918; S/Sgt. Percy G. Edwards, (Army Dental 
Corps) 29,28-ll-1918;S/Sgt.Joseph Stock,(Army 
Medical Corps) 32, 6-12-1918; Pte. Alfred E. 
Brown, 18, 14-12-1918; James Lacey (crew), 20, 

4- 12-1918: Italian Reservists : Maccioni Bachisio, 

30, 28-11-1918; Nirino Minervini, 35, 28-11- 
1918; Ugo Gianacci, 30, 29-11-1918; Joseph 
Biagoni, 23, 29-11-1918; Luigi Motoralli, 27, 
30-11-1918; Joseph Soglia, 24, 30-11-1918; 
Lorenzo Spinazi, 29, 3-12-1918; Luigi Ursini, 30, 

5- 12-1918; Pietro Peras, 33, 22-1-1919; Nursing 
Staff : Annie Egan, 27, 3-12-1918; Elizabeth 
McGregor, 33, 5-12-1918. 

— ex Atua, 18-11-1918: 

Massa Nura (Fijian), 29, 19-11-1918; Charles 
Dickson. 35, 20-11-1918; Abel (Fijian). 30, 21- 

11-1918; William Bliss, 10 months, 22-11-1918; 
Savanaka (Fijian), 24, 26-11-1918. 

— ex Manuka, 13-11-1918: 

S. Frank Saunders. 27. 24-11-1918. 

— ex Makura, 13-12-1918: 

George Grainger, 29, 16-12-1918;Alice Ethel Sime, 
28, 19-12-1918 ( later exhumed and buried in 
Melbourne); Alexander Mear, 28, 20-12-1918. 

Sources of information: 

— Pneumonic influenza deaths, not identified 
by quarantined ship: 

Mailili, (Fijian). 23, 10-11-1918; Lucio, (Fijian), 
28,11-11- 1 91 8;JoeJassia, (Fijian), 30 11-11-1918, 
William Campbell Menzies, 30, 11-11-1918, Percy 
Eathorn, 22, 12-11-1918, Alfred Barnett, 23, 

12- 11-1918; Perasi, (Fijian), 20, 13-11-1918; 
Charles Lelland, 34, 14-11-1918; Monassa, (Fijian), 

14- 11-1918; James Moore, 35, 16-11-1918; John 
McKarrall, 28, 1 6-1 1 -1 91 8; Jawai Lin, 24, 
3-12-1918; Moon Yick, 32. 22-1-1919 (exhumed 
1929 and buried in China); Kamauti, (Pacific 
Islander), 25, 7-4-1 91 9;Tobu, (Pacific Islander), 19, 

9- 4-1919; Tona, (Pacific Islander), 40, 9-4-1919; 
Terebua, (Pacific Islander), 25, 9-4-1919; Towia, 
(Pacific Islander), 20, 9-4-1919; J. W. Frantz, 27, 

10- 4-1 91 9; Pte. James Shaw, (Quarantine staff), 35, 

11- 4-1919; Takirua, (Pacific Islander), 17, 

13- 4-1919; Jeremiah, (Pacific Islander), 19, 

15- 4-1919; A. Thomson, 29, 17-4-1919; AH 
Sahalah, 25, 16-4-1919; Alexis, 22, 20-4-1919; 
Maiji Sala, 30. 20-4-1919; Gaby 27, 25-4-1919; 
Quinie, 30, (o), 4-5-1919; Dona. 24, (o). 
27-5-1919; Arthur Davies, 30, (Naval officer), 
21-6-1919; Wampo, 30, 4-7-1919; P. Martinson, 
44, 7-7-1919. 

— ex Malta, 20-2-1919: 

Pte. A. Attree, 24, (u), 21-2-1919. 

— ex Anchises, 15-4-1919: 

Pte. Peter Chervin, 26, (o), 16-4-1919. 

— ex Tasman, 2-8-1925: 

Savain, (Indonesian), 29, (o), 17-8-1925. 

— ex Strathmore, 27-2-1962: 

G. Mallett, 66, (o), (buried elsewhere).. 

Records of deaths and burials at the Station before 1881 were sent from the Station to the Customs House 
in 1936 and cannot be found. The partial lists above of people who were buried in the First and Second 
Burial grounds have been compiled from the following main sources: Public Record Office, U.K.; C.O. 
201/262 f55. Despatch no.77 John Barry, C.O. 201/271 ffs 19-520, Despatch no. 28 Minerva, C.O. 201/ 
260 f225 & ff 238V- 241 .Despatch no. 19 Lady MacNaghten, Archives Office of New South Wales: Reports 
by Immigration Agent on condition of Immigrants and ships on arrival 4/4624-5, 4/4697, Immigration 
Agent’s Lists of Persons on Government & Bounty Ships Ships 4/4780 - 4/4799, Assisted Immigrants 
Inwards to Sydney 4/4922-3, 4/4947, Colonial Secretary’s correspondence; N.S.W. Registry of Births, 
Deaths and Marriages; Newspapers; the Report of the Royal Commission on the Management of the 
Station in 1881, and surviving gravestones. 

The list of names of people who were buried in the third Burial Ground has been compiled fkim 
Australian Archives: Record of Deaths at the Station 1881-1962 CRS C526, and Department of Health 
correspondence regarding quarantined ships and the North Head Graveyard 1917-1949 SP399 and A1928 
item 876/1 A 1928; correspondence held at the Station in 1984, and newspapen. 



AA Australian Archives, A.C.T. and N.S.W. 
Regional Office 

AONSW Archives Office of New South Wales 
HRA Historical Records of Australia, Series 1 
HRNSW Historical Records of New South Wales 
JRAHS Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society 
MJA Medical Journal of Australia 

ML Mitchell Library 

NL Australian National Library 

PRO Public Record Office, United Kingdom 

SMH Sydney Morning Herald 

V &PLC \cbtes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 

of New South Wales 

V&PLA Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 
of New South Wales 


The Beginnings of a Quarantine System in Port Jackson 

1. Juno's Captain to Col. Sec., 9-4-1855, AONSIV 
Col. Arch., 2/647; Executive Council Minutes, 
6-2-1855, AONSIV 4/1532 

2. Old Testament, Samuel V.6. 

3. Spink, W.W., Infectious Diseases: Prevention and 
Treatment in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 
Folkestone, 1978, pp.3-5, 

4. Ibid.; Copland,J.,A Dictionary of Practical Medicine, 
London, 1858,Vol. 1, pp. 569-70, 907. Copland 
described formites as substances capable of 
imbibing infectious emanations 'such as animal 
productions, particularly woollen and hairy 
substances ... furs, feathers and body clothes’. 

5. Cumpston,J. H. L., ‘Quarantine Law and 
Principles’, Maritime Quarantine Administration, 
Comm. ofAust. Quarantine Service Publication 
No. 16, Melbourne, 1919, pp. 5,16. 

6. OldTestament, Leviticus,xiii;Curson,P.H., Times 
of Crisis, Sydney, 1 985, p. 2. 

7. Meyer, K. E, Disinfected Mail: An Historical Review, 
Kansas, 1962, p. 256. 

8. Howird,]., An Account of the Principal Lazarettos 
in Europe..., 1789, p.26; Meyer, op. cit., p. 13. 

9. Cumpston, op. cit., pp. 3-14. 

10. Howard, op. cit., p. 27. 

11. Meyer, op. cit.; Dispatches from Governor 
Bourke to Secretary of State 1837, Plunkett 
to Thomson, 25-6-1837, C. O. 201/260 no. 
60, ML. 

12. Meyer, op. cit. 

13. Gandevia, B., ’Socio-Medical Factors in the 
Evolution of the First Settlement at Sydney 
Cove, 1788-1803’, JRAHS, Vol. 61, March 
1975, pp. 4-7. 

14. Collins, D., An Account of the English Colony in 
New South Wales, Vol. 1, Sydney 1975, pp. 5, 19. 

15. Southwell to Mrs Southwell, 5-5-1788, 
HRNSW, II p. 683 

16. Collins, op. cit., p. 53; Bradley, W, A Voyage 
to New South Wales 1786-1792, Sydney, 
1969, pp. 161-3; Phillip to Sydney, 12-2- 
1790, HRA, I, p.l45. 

17. Collins, op. cit.; J. H. L. Cumpston, Smallpox in 
Australia 1788-1908, Melbourne, 1919, pp. 171-5. 

18. General Otder,HRVSH/III,p.206;HRA, IV,p.321. 

19. Johnson to Thornton, HRNSW, I, pp. 387-88. 

20. King to Hobart, 30-10-1802, HRA, III, pp. 
583-4; Jamison to Hobart, 8-11-1802, ibid., 
pp. 701-5. 

21. King to Hobart 30-10-1802, HRA, III, p. 583. 

References Chapters 1-2 


22. King to Hobart 19-5-1804, HRA, IV, pp. 82, 

23. King to Hobart 14-8-1804, HRA, V, p. 84. 

24. King to Hobart 13-1-1805, HRA,V, p. 279. 

25. Macquarie to Commissioners ofTransport, 

April 1814, pp.244-8, 274-93. 

26. Ibid., p. 295, Sydney Gazette, 30-6, 13-8-1814. 

27. An article about the Station in the SMH, 23 
July 1913, refers to rock carvings dating back 
to 1815 but no surviving records mention 
any quarantine at North Head before 1828. 
The rock carving may have been made by 
one of the crew of a whaler, and subsequently 
been destroyed during the reclamation of the 
wharf area in 1913-14; Darling to Huskisson, 
28-8-1828, HRA, XIV, pp. 347-8, 706; 
Sydney Gazette, 30-7, 4, 24, 28-8-1828. 

28. Darling to Huskisson, 28-8-1828, HRA, XIV, 
pp.348-50; Executive Council Minutes, 29-7- 
1828, 17-8-1828, 9-9-1828, .40NSI4' 4/1516. 

29. Nicholson, I. H., S/iippiM^/lrriMflls and Departures, 
Sydney, 1826-1840, Canberra, 1981, pp. 50, 89. 

30. ‘Guide to Shipping and Free Passenger 
Records’, AO.VSW, 1984, pp. 100-5. 

31. Felling, M., Gholera, Fever and English Medicine 
1825-1865, Oxford, 1978, pp. 1-2; 
MacDonagh,0.,/l Pattern of Government Growth 
1800- 1860: The Passenger Acts and their 
Enforcement, London, 1961, pp. 80-4. 

32. Bourke to Goderich, 30-10-1832, HiM, XVI, 
pp. 779-80. 

33. Ibid., p. 779; Public Statutes of 24.S. W 3 William 
iv, No.1, 28-7-1832; C.S. Heydon’s memo 
accompanying Quarantine Bill 1897, Public 
Statutes of N.S. W. 

34. Enclosure with Bourke ’s Dispatch on 
Quarantine Laws No. 28, 15-2-1835, ML 

35. Goderich to Bourke, 31-3-1832, HRA, XVI, 
pp. 583-6. 

36. .V.S. 14/ Government Gazette, 15-8-1832. 

37. White to Health Officer, 16-3-1852, ..40.VSFV 
Col. Sec., 4/3197. 

38. Thomson to Deputy Inspector of Hospitals, 
25-9-1838, /lO.VSPV Col. Sec., 4/3892. 

39. Sydney Herald, 21-2-1833; Nicholson, lH,opa't. 

40. .V.S. 14/ Government Gazette, 27-2-1833. 

41. Stanley to Bourke, 24-3-1834, and Bourke to 
Spring Rice, 15-2-1835, HRA, XVIII, pp. 
402-3, 662-3. 

42. Ibid., pp. 403, 663. 

43. Bourke’s Dispatches to Stanley. 4-9, 15-10- 

1 835, ML A1 232; Bourke to Glenelg, 9-9-1835, 
HRA, XVIIl, pp. 97-9, 165-6. 

44. Select Committee on the Quarantine Laws, 
H.G.Alleyne’s evidence, 28-6-1853, V&PLC, 
Vol. 2, 1853. 

45. Bourke to Glenelg, 9-9-1835, op. cit., pp. 98-9. 

46. Report from the Select committee on 
Quarantine Laws, A. Osborne’s evidence, 
12-8-1853, F&PLC, Vol. 2, 1853. 


The Voyage and Quarantine of the Immigrant Ship 
Lady MacNaghten, 1837. 

1. Report of the committee on Immigration, 
V&PLG, 1835, in C.M.H. Clarke (ed.), in Select 
Documents inAustralian History, Sydney, 1958, p. 194. 

2. Col. Sec. to Bourke, 25-7-1838, Bourke Family 
Papers, N.S.W Correspondence, ML MSS. 403/6. 

3. Stephen to Spearman, 19-8-1836, A. Osborne’s 
evidence. Dispatches on the Subject of 
Immigration, V&PLC, 1837. 

4. Stephen to Boyle, 10-9-1836, Ibid. 

5. Osborne to Col. Sec., 27-7-1837. 2-11-1836, 
Col. Sec. Letters Rec’d, 1837, /IONS 14^ 4/2377. 

6. Memoranda of a voyage from Cork to Sydney 
in charge of emigrants, j. A. Hawkins, PRO, C.O. 
201/269, p. 113. 

7. Ibid., pp. 127, 163, 168. 

8. Ibid.; 'The Late Emigration System’, Sydney 
Herald, 14-8-1837. 

9. Bouike to Glenelg. 10-4-1837, HRA, XVIII, p.726. 

10. Bourke to Glenelg, 7-7-1837, HR/1, XIX, pp. 
11-21; Glenelg to Gipps, 29-3-1838, HRA, 
XIX, pp. 342-4. 

11. Bourke to Glenelg, Ibid. 

12. Ibid. 

13. Hawkin’s Memoranda, op. cit., p.ll2; Sydney 
Monitor, ‘The Lady McNaughton: ill-treatment 
of the Passengers as alleged in the following 
letter, subscribed by the parties’, 20-3-1837; 
Sydney Herald, 14-8-1837, op. cit. 

14. Bourke to Glenelg, HRA, XIX, p. 20. 

15. Hawkins’ Memoranda seq., op. cit.; Dispatches 
from the Governor of N.S.W. to the Secretary 
of State, C.O. 201/260 No. 19, 10-4-1837, 
Bowler and Stuart toThomson 28-2-1 837, A4L. 

16. Minutes of evidence. Select Committee on 
Immigration, Indian and British, into N.S.W, 
Dr D. Thomson, 27-7-1837, V&PLC, 1838. 


In Quarantine 

17. Hawkins, op. cit., p. 137. 

18. Ibid., pp. 164 et. seq. 

19. Ibid., pp. 164. 

20. Ibid., pp. 142, 145-6. 

21. Ibid., pp. 134-135, 165; Sydney Herald, 
14-8-1837, op. cit. 

22. Ibid., p. 167; Bourke to Glenelg, HRA, XIX, 
pp. 19-20; Sydney Monitor, 20-3-1837. 

23. Ibid., pp. 128 et seq. 

24. Ibid., p. 130 

25. Ibid., pp. 132, 152, 162 et seq. 

26. Ibid., p. 120. 

27. Ibid., pp. 152, 181. 

28. Bowler to col. Sec., 3-3.1837, AO.VSH< Col. 
Sec. Letters Rec’d, 4/2377. 

29. Bourke to Glenelg, 10-4 and 7-7-1837; HRA, 
XVIII, pp.726-7; HRA, XIX, pp. 14-15. 

30. Dispatches from the Governor, op. ri'/., Bowler 
and Stuart to Col. Sec., 28-2-1837. 

31. Executive Council Minutes, 27-2-1837, 
AO.VSIT 4/1520; Diaries of Sarah, wife ofW. 
G. Broughton, 27-2-1837, NL.; Col. Sec. to 
Bowler, Inches, Spink, 28-2-1837, AONSIT 
Col Sec., Letters relating to Quarantine, 4/3892. 

32. Col. Sec. to Spink, 28-2, 1 , 3-3-1837, AONS W 
4/3892; Executive Council Minutes 6-3-1837 
AOSSIV 4/1520. 

33. Stuart to Col. Sec. ,25-3-1 837, AO.VS IT Letters 
Rec’d 4/2377; Col. Sec. to Collector of 
Customs, 29-3-1837, AONSW 4/3892. 

34. Inches to Col. Sec., 1-3-1837, 13-3-1 837; AONSW 
4/2571 Dispatches from the Governor, opcit. 

35. Inches to col.Sec., 11-3-1837,^0,^51^4/2377. 

36. Stuart, 6-3-1837, Bowler, 15-4-1837, Inches 
1 1-3-1837, ibid.; Col. Sec. to Assistant Military 
Secretary, 20-3-1837, AO.VSIT 4/3892. 

37. Dobie to Col. Sec., Enclosure with Minute 8, 
Executive Council Minutes, 17-3-1837, 
AONS IT 4/ 1520. 

38. Ibid., 17,21-3-1837;Harington to Bowler, 29- 
3-1837 to 3-4-1837, AONSIT 4/3892; 
Executive Council Minutes, 21-3-1837, 
AONS IT 4/ 1520. 

39. Ibid. 

40. Folding and Inches to Col. Sec., 3-3-1837, 
AO.VSIT 4/2377. 

41. Harington to Inches. Col. Sec., Letters Rec’d, 
AONS IT5/3992; Executive Council Minutes, 
1 3-3- 1837, AONS IT 4/ 1 520. 

42. Col. Sec. to Spink. 17-3-1837, AONSIT 4/3892. 

43. Executive Council Minutes, Ibid; Inches to Col. 
Sec., 5-3-1837, Harington to Asst. Military 
Sec., 7-3-1837, AO,VSIT 4/3892. 

44. V&PLC, 1837. 

45. Col. Sec. to Hustwick, 30-6-1837. AO.VSIT 
4/3892; Dispatches from the Governor, op. cit., 
Hustwick to Col. Sec., Plunkett to Col. Sec., 

46. Bourke to Glenelg. 10-4-1937, HRA, XVIII, 
p. 727, XIX, pp. 434-5. 


The Quarantine Station and Staff, 1937-41 

1. Bourke to Glenelg, 27-7-1837, HRA, XIX, p. 
51; Col. Sec. to Major Barney, 10-10-1837, 
letters relating to quarantine, AO.VSIT 4/3892. 

2. Answers by Captain Robson, 13-7-1837, 
AO.VSIT Col. Sec. Letters Rec’d., 4/2777-79. 

3. A description of the John Barry is given in a letter 
from W. H. Parker, headed ‘Van Diemen’s Land’, 
reproduced in the Sydney Herald, 28-8-1837. 

4. Nominal return of emigrants who died on the 
voyage on John Barry and Quarantine Station by 
Dr D. Thomson, 19-9-1837, AO.VSIT Col. 
Sec. Letters Rec’d 1837, 4/2377-79; Bourke 
to Glenelg 12-8, 19-9-1837, HRA, XIX, pp. 
67. 91. 

5. N.S.W Government Gazette, 19-7-1837. 

6. Col. Sec. to Roach, Thomson, Osborne and 
Stuart, July. August 1837, AO.VSIT 4/3892. 

7. Col. Sec. 12-8-1837, to Roach, 7. 20-7-1837, 
to Thompson, 5-8-1837, Ibid. 

8. Executive Council Minutes, 23-5-1853, 

AONS IT 4/4390; Elyard to Health Officer, 4-3- 
1853, AONSW Col. Sec., 4/3735. 

9. Col. Sec. to Thomson and Roach, 27-7, 7-8- 
1837, AONSIT 4/3892. 

10. Col. Sec. to Roach, 14-8-1837, 17-2-1838, 
AONSIT 4/3892. 

11. Col. Sec. to Barney, 10-10-1837, ibid. 

12. Rough sketch of the Quarantine Ground at 
the North Head made by S. A. Perry, 
19-5-1838, and sketch byT. H. Nutt (undated), 
AO.VSIT Maps 4955, 4956. 

13. Instruction for Guards, 4-3- 1839, Military Sec. 
to Col. Sec., 26-10-1841, Col. Sec. Letters 
Rec’d, 1 84 1 , AONS W 4/255 1 -4/2552. 1 . 

14. Col. Arch., 1-3-1859, AONS IT 2/647; journal 
ofW. Usherwood on board the Beejapore 1853, 
ML; Diary of Charles Moore on board the 
Constitution, ML; Report of the Select 
Committee on Quarantine Laws, 1853, H. H. 
Browne’s evidence, 12-8-1853, H. G. Alleyne’s 
evidence, 28-6-1853, T&PLC, 1853. 

15. Col. Sec. to Thomson, 17-7-1837, AO.VSIT 
4/3892, Ibid; memo on Dobie’s letter, 
3-8-1838, AONS IT 4/3892. 

References Chapters 3-4 


16. Col. Sec. to Neile, 4. 9-8-1837, ibid; Sydney 
Gazette, 22-2-1838. 

17. Col. Sec. CO Inches, 8-4-1837, AONSIV 

IS.'Col. Sec. to Commander North Britain, 16, 17- 
12-1839, and to Thomson, 15-7-1837, 

/IONS IP 4/3892-3. 

19 . Request from Superintendent, 28-3-1 838, letters of 
instrucrion to Superintendent et seq.,AONSW 4/ 

20 . Col. Sec. to Col. Arch, 20-10-1838, ibid. 

21. Col. Sec. to Superintendent, 15-11-1838, ibid. 

22 . Quarantine Expenses 1841, V&PLC, 1841, 
p.l93; Col. Sec. to Superintendent, 9-8-1838, 
23-12-1839, ^ONSIP 4/3892. 

23. Report of Enquiry into the causes of sickness 
on board the NewYork Packet, 16-6-1842, PRO 
CO 201/320 10630; Stanley to Gipps, 8-2-43, 
HRA, XXII, pp. 558-65. 

24 . Ibid. 

25 . Ibid; Report of ships placed in quarantine 
between 1-7-1841 and 21-6-1842, V&PLC, 

26 . Bateman to Health Officer, 30, 31-10-1841, 
/lOiVSlP Col. Sec., Letters Rec’d, 4/2551.2. 

27. Bateman to Health Officer, 5-11-1841, 
/40NS1P Col. Sec., 4/2552.1 

28 . Harington to Master of Lunatic Asylum, 
31-12-1838, /lONSlP 4/3893. 

29 . Col. Sec. to Medical Board, 20-3-1838, 
AONSid^ ibid; Sydney Gazette, 10-2, 8, 

30 . Col. Sec. to Bourke, 25-7, 1-12-1838, Bourke 
Family Papers, N.S.W. correspondence, ML. 

31. Report of Committee appointed 25 June 1839 
to consider the question of Immigration 
generally with a view to ascertain the present 
and prospective demands on the Colony for 
labour ... V&PLC, 1846;Return ofimmigrants 
sent from England to the Colony.. .in vessels 
chartered by Government as far as same can be 
made up, in continuation of the Return dated 

30 September 1838,J. D. Pinnock, Agent for 
Immigration, 24-1-1839, V&PLC, 1839; 
Snodgrass’ dispatch No. 28, PRO CO 201/ 

32. Col. Sec. to Col. Arch., 7-1 1-1838, /lONSIF 

33 . Sydney Gazette, 13, 15, 17-2, 3-3-1838. 

34. Dobie to Col. Sec., 3-8-1838, ^dONSkP Col. 
Sec. Misc. 4/2408.3; W. G. Armstrong, ‘The 
Pint Australian Health Officer’, MJA, 
24-6-1939, p.928. 

35. Col. Sec. to Dobie, 9-8-1836, /lONSFF 

36 . Gipps to Glenelg, 29-9-1838, HRA, XIX, pp. 

37. Gipps to Glenelg, 22-11-1838, ibid., pp.683-5. 

38 . Sydney Gazette, 17-11-1838. 

39 . Executive Council Minutes, 8-10-1838, 
/lONSFP 4/2408.3. 

40. Gipps to Glenelg, 6-1-1839, HRA, XIX, pp. 
737-8; Col. Sec. to Dobie, 21-1-1839, 
Appendix to Report of Select Committee on 
Quarantine Laws 1853, V&PLC, 1853. 

41. Col. Sec. to Dobie, 31-12-1838, .AONSIF 

42. Gipps to Russell, 12-2-1840, HRA, XX, p. 
507, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 2, 
1788-1850, Melbourne, 1967, p. 418. 

43. Col. Sec. to Dobie, 21-1-1839, op. cit. 

44. Col. Sec., 1-10-1838, Col. Sec. to 
Superintendent, 31-12-1838, AONSfP' 
4/3892-3; Annual Returns of the Colony. 

45. Sandon To Health Officer, 12-5, 15-6, 24-8, 
20-9-1841, Col. Sec. Letters Rec’d 1841, 
^OiVSfF 4/2551-2. 

46 . Doctor to Health Officer (undated), ibid. 

47 . Annual Returns of the Colony. 

48 . Elyard to Col. Arch., 30-1, 18-2-1854, 
AO.VSIT Col. Arch. 2/647. 

49. G. H. Aurosseau, ‘Reminiscences of Old 
Manly 1868-1880’, L.Welling’s Collection, 
Manly Municipal Library. 


Immigration and Quarantine 1838-1859 

1. Russell to Gipps, 12-2-1840, HRA, XX, p.504. 

2. Report on the subject of Immigration: J. Dobie’s 
evidence, 20-8-1838, V&PLC, 1838 

3. Report of the Board appointed on 5 December 
1 838 ‘to inquire into and report on the probable 
causes which have produced during the present 
year [1838], a greater degree of sickness on board 
Immigration ships chartered by the Government, 
than in those fitted out under the Bounty 
System ‘, K&PLC, 1839. 

4. Ibid. 

5. O. Mac Donagh,/4 Pattern of Government Growth, 
1800- 18 60: The Passenger Acts and their 
Enforcement, London, 1961, pp. 124-37 et seq. 

6. Land and Emigration Commissioners to Stephen, 
7-10-1840, HRA, XXI, pp. 14-29. 

7. O. MacDonagh, Ibid; Russell to Gipps, 1 1-2- 
1840, HRA, XX, p. 504, Elliot to Stephen, 
7-6-1838, HRA, XX, 449-50. 

8. Russell to Gipps, 12-2-1840, HRA, XX, p. 504. 


In Quarantine 

9. Russell to Gipps, 7-10-1840, HRA, XXI, p. 27. 

10. Letters relating to quarantine, 14-12-1839, 
/lO.VSW', 4/3892. 

11. Gipps to Russell. 12, 13-2-1840. HRA, XXI, 
pp. 507. 

12. Statement of Expenses paid for from the 
Treasury of N.S.W. for the quarantine of vessels 
in Sydney and Port Phillip in 1840, V&PLC, 

13. Gipps to Russell, 2-11-1841, H/M, XXI, pp. 

14. Grey to Fitz Roy. 30-8-1847, HRA. XXV, pp. 

15. J. H. Welch, Hell to Health: The History of 
Quarantine at Port Phillip Heads 1 852- 1 960, 
Victoria, 1969; C. Masters, ‘Quarantine at 
Albany’ Public Health Library, Univ of 
Sydney; C.Wiburd, ‘Notes on the History of 
Maritime Quarantine in Queensland. 
Nineteenth Century', Journal of the Historical 
Society of Queensland, Vol III, December 1954, 
pp. 369-83; R. Jay ‘Quarantine at Torrens 
Island’, The Local Museuni, Vol. 3, April 1982. 

16. Browne to Col. Sec., 16-8-1 847, /lO.VSiy Col. 
Arch. 2/647. 

17. Ibid; Estimate for Repairs, 9-9-1847, /lO.VSIT 
Col. Arch. 2/647; Expenses paid on account 
of Immigration 1847, V&PLC, 1848. 

18. Report relating to Additional Buildings required 
at the Quarantine Station, 23-3-1848, AO.VSIV 
Col. Arch. 2/647; Col. Arch, to Col. Sec., 24-3, 
23-7-1849, Col. Arch. 4/2840. 

19. Ibid. 

20. ‘Health Officer forwarding Report of the 
Sick and the Note from Dr Alloway of the 
ship Emigrant now in quarantine’, 12-3- 
1849, Col. Sec. to Col. Arch., AO.VSIV 
4/2840. 4/1352. 

21. Select Committee on the Immigration 
Department; H. Browne’s evidence, 17-7-1855, 
p. 5. y&PLC, 1855. 

22. Carroll to White, 19-8-1852, and Browne’s 
endorsement, 27-8-1852., Ibid. 

23. Executive Council Minutes, 22-11-1852, 
AONSIT 4/1529; Elyard to Browne and 
Alleyne, 3-1-1853, AO.VSfP 4/3893. 

24. ‘H. G. Alleyne’, /lustra/idM Dictionary of Biography, 
Vol. 3, 1851-1890, Melbourne, 1969; F. 
McCallum,‘An Early Australian Health Officer’, 
Health, IV, January 1926. 

25. Health Officer: Letter from the Health Officer 
to the Colonial Secretary, 1 1-12-1852, V&PLC, 

26. Executive Council Minutes, 2-1-1855, 
.40.VSIV 4/1532; Col. Sec. to Health Officer, 
30-4-1855, AOSSIV 4/3735. 

27. Report of the Royal Commission appointed 
on 13 September 1881 to report on the 
management of the Quarantine Station and the 
hulk Faraway, Alleyne’s evidence, 10-11-1881, 
V&PLA, 1882, Pt. 2. 

28. Ibid., p.l2. 

29. Petition of H. H. Browne, 16-5-1862, V&PLA, 

30. Report of the Immigration Agent for the year 
1853: Annual Reports on Immigration In New 
South Wales and other papers, 1838-1865, 
/40.VSIV 4/4708. 

31. Health Officer’s Report for the year 1853, 
V&PLC, 1854. 

32. Journal ofW Usherwood, January 1853, ML. 

33. Miles to Col. Sec., 14-1-1853, /10.VSM< Col. 
Sec. 4/3183; Usherwood, 30-1-1853 ibid. 

34. Miles, ibid; Usherwood, ibid., 30-1-1853. 

35. Miles, 14-1-1853, ibid. 

36. Agent for Immigration to Col. Sec., 19-1-1853, 
/lONSIVCol. Sec. 4/3183. 

37. Blacket, ‘Regulations to be Observed at the 
Quarantine Station, Spring Cove’, 6-7-1853, 
>40.VSH^ Col. Arch. 2/647; Report from the 
Select committee on Quarantine Laws 
(Browne’s evidence, 12-8-1853); op. cit., 
Browne to Col. Arch., 22-10-1853, /lO.VSlT 
Col. Arch. 2/647. 

38. Report from the Select Committee on 
Quarantine Laws, ibid., Alleyne’s evidence, 

3 9 . Territorial Revenue - Accounts of Receipts and 
Disbursements, V&PLC, 1853, 1854; 

Report. ..on Quarantine Laws, ibid., Browne, 
12-8-1853; Health Officer’s Report for 1853, 
V&PLC, 1854. 

40. Report relating to Additional Buildings 
required..., 23-3-1848, /lONSM^ op. cit. 

41. Executive Council Minutes, 1, 2, 23-5-1853, 
^OiVS IV 4/4390; Elyard to Alleyne, 4-3-1854, 
^ONS IV Col. Sec. 4/3735. 

42. General Board of Health Report on Quarantine 
Presented to Both Houses of Parliament, London, 
1849, pp. 7, 10. 

43. Report of Select Committee on Quarantine 
Laws, op. cit. 

44. Sydney Illustrated News, 9-9-1854, p. 225; A. T. 
Holroyd, ‘The Quarantine Laws, their abuses 
and Inconsistencies’, in A Letter addressed to Sir 
John Hobhouse, London, ML. 

45. Report... on Quarantine Laws, op. cit. 

46. Reports by Immigration Agent on the condition 
of immigrant ships on their arrival, 15-1-1855 
to 31-3-1856, p. 136, /lO.VSIV Immigration 
4/4697; Health Officer’s Report for 1858, 
V&PLC, 1859. 

References Chapters 4-5 


47. Sydney Morning Herald, 28-5-1855,28-5-1905; 
Australian Star, 27-5-1905; Health Officer’s 
Report for 1855, ibid.. Town and country Journal 

48. Diary of (presumably) C. Moore on a voyage 
from England to Australia on board the 
immigrant ship Constitution, 15 February - 24 
July 1855, ML. 

49. Ibid., pp. 64-80. 

50. Sydney Morning Herald, 28-5-\905; Australian 
Star, 27-5-1905. 

51. Minutes of Evidence taken by Select 
Committee on the Immigration Department: 
Browne, 17-7-1855, V&PLC, 1856; Report by 
Immigration Officer on condition of immigrant 
ships on arrival, op. cit. 

52. Moore’s Diary, op. cit. p. 6. 

53. Reports of the Health Officer for 1853 and 
1854, V&PLC, 1854 and 1855. 

54. Col. Arch., 1855, 1856, 1858, /lO.VSfF 2/647. 


‘A Rough Place’ and a Royal Commission, 1860-81 

1. Guide to Shipping and Free Passenger Records, 
Guide to the State Archives of New South Wales, 
No. 17, 1984, pp. 117-28. 

2. Report of the Health Officer, Sydney, (Returns 
for 1859), V&PLA, 1861. 

3. Samuel P/imso//.Immigration Reports and 
Papers, 1880-1881,Vol.l, /lONSfF 4/4707. 

4. Guide to Shipping, op. cit.; Summary ofVessels 
detained at North Head from 1854; Deputy 
Superintendent of Quarantine to Acting 
Director of Quarantine, 29-1-1912, AA 
(A.C.T.) CRS CP567/1 Bundle 2. 

5. Summary ofVessels detained at North Head, op 
fit.; Executive Council Minutes, 16-8,5-9-1872, 
/40.VS1F 4/1555;’Logania; a Journal published 
by S.S.Hero passengers...’, ML. 

6. Henry Allworth Merewether, By Sea and Land, 
London, 1874, pp. 143-152. 

7. Col. Treasurer Index to letters Received, 1873, 
AOiVSfF 4/6728 and 4/6956; Statement of 
Disbursements on account of Consolidated 
Revenue, V&PLA, 1874 

8. Plan by J. Barnet, 9-8-1876, with the Report 
of Health Officer upon the State ... of the 
Station, V&PLA, 1883. 

9. Ibid; Lloyd’s Shipping Register, 1877-78. 

10. Reports of the Health Officer, 1853 and 1854, 
V&PLC, 1854, 1855 

11. Ibid., 1857. 

12. Report of the Royal Commission appointed 
on 13 September 1881 to report on the 
Management of the Quarantine Station, 
North Head and the Hulk Faraway, evidence 
of W. Walsh, 11-10-1881, V&PLA, 1882, Pt 
2; Answers to Question: Minutes of Proceedings 
of the Legislative Council, 31-7-1872, Vol. 21. 

13. Executive Council Minutes, 19-3-1877, 
AO.VSIF 4/11560; Royal Commission, ibid., 
evidence of G. Eagar, 22-9-1881. 

14. Executive Council Minutes, 28-3-1859, 

15. /feid.,January-May 1877, AONSIF 4/1560. 

16. Ibid: Report of Royal Commission, op. cit., 
Eagar’s evidence, 22-9-1881. 

17. Executive Council Minutes, ibid; Annual Returns 
of the Colony, 1877, 1881. 

18. Report of the Royal Commission, op. cit.. 
Second Report, evidence of Dr C.H. Gibson, 

.19. Report of the Royal Commission, op. cit., 
evidence of Dr H.G. Alleyne, 15-11-1881. 

20. Quarantine (Report of Superintendent, in 
reference to certain complaints respecting), 
V&PLA 1868-9. 

21. Report of the Royal Commission, op. cit., p. 12. 

22. Complaints made by G.F. Wise, Agent for 
Immigration, 1-10-1868, V&PLA 1868-9,Vol. 2. 

23. Reports by Immigration Agent on condition of 
immigrants and ships on arrival, AONSW 4/4625. 

24. Complaints made by G.F. Wise and Treasurer’s 
decision, 20-11-1868, ibid. 

25. Report of the Board of Health upon the Late 
Epidemic of Small-Pox, 1881-1882, V&PLA, 
1883; P.H. Curson, Times of Crisis: Epidemics in 
Sydney 1788-1900, Sydney, 1985, p. 83. 

26. Report of the Royal Commission ... op. cit. 

27. Illustrated Sydney Neiw, 30-9-1881 . 

28. Sydney Mail, 10-9-1881; Illustrated Sydney News, 

29. Report of the Royal Commission, op. cit. 

30. Ibid., evidence: G. Eagar. 22-9-1881; Dr WH. 
Goode. 28-9-1881. 

31. Ibid., evidence: G. Eagar, 22-9-1881; S.M. 
Caffyn, 28-9-1881; M.J. Clune, 25-10-1881; 
G.Guilford, 12-10-1881. 

32. Ibid., evidence: Caffyn and Clune. 

33. Ibid., evidence: J. Sullivan, 1-11-1881; 
J.Carroll, 13-10-1881. 


In Quarantine 

34. Ibid., evidence: MJ. Clune, 25-10-1881; G.H. 
Livesey, 3-1 1 -1881, N. Rout, 18-10-1 881 ;S.M. 
CafTyn, 28-9-1881. 

35. /fcid.. Report of the Commissionen, 11-1-1882, 
p. 9; evidence: E.W. Verdich, 18-10-1881. 

36. Ibid., evidence: L.J. Coghlan, 3-1 1-1881; G.H. 
Livesey, 3-11-1881. 

37. Ibid., evidence: Nurse Meyler, 8-ll-1881;J. 
Carroll, 26-10-1881. 

38. Ifcuf., Report of the Commissionen,! 1-1-1 882, p.l 1. 

39. Ibid., evidence: J. Carroll, 26-10-1881; E.W. 
Verdich, 18-10-1881; W. Walsh, 11-10-1881. 

40. Ibid., evidence: E.W.Verdich, 18-10-1881; J. 
Hughes. 6-10-1881. 

41. /fci(/.,evidence:J. Hughes. 6-10-1881;W. Walsh, 
11-10-1881; E.W.Verdich. 18-10-1881. 

42. Ibid. , evidence:]. Hughes, 6-10-1 88 1 ;W Walsh. 
11-10-1881;]. Sullivan, 1-11-1881. 

43. Ibid., Report of the Commissioners, p.l3. 

44. Ibid., evidence: Dr L. Foucart, 21-10-1881; 
E.W.Verdich, 1 8-1 0- 1 88 1 ;]. Hughes. 4- 1 0- 1 88 1 . 

45. Ibid., Report of the Commissioners, pp. 12-13. 

46. Report of the Board of Health upon the late 
Epidemic of Smallpox, op. ri'f.. Board of Health 
Minute Book. 1881, /lONSlT 5/2913. 

47. Board of Health Minute Book, 1881, ibid; 
Steamship Ocean (Petition of G.R. Stevens) 
V&PLA, 1882. 


Under New Management, 1882-99 

1. The Australasian Sanitary Conference of 
Sydney, 1884, pp. 4-8, V&PLA, 1884. 

2. Ibid., p. 8. 

3. ]. A. Thompson, ‘Quarantine and Smallpox’, 
Journal of the Royal Society of N.S. W,Vol XXI, 
1887, p.231. 

4. Board of Health Minute Book, 6-1-1882, 
idONSfV 5/2913; Infectious Disease 
Supervision Act 1881, Public Statutes of 
N.S. W, No. 25, 45, Victoria; Department of 
Health (Report of the Board of Health for 
1897), V&PLA, 1899. 

5. Board ofHealth Minute Book and Department 
of Health Report, ibid; Report of the Board of 
Health, 1897-8, V&PLA, 1899. 

6. Board ofHealth, ibid., 9, 23-1-1882; Col. 
Treasurer, Index to Letters Rec’d, Public 
Officers, 1883-1894, AOiVSlT 9/1432-5. 

7. C.R. Boughton, A Coast Chronicle.The History of 
Prince Henry Hospital, Centennial Issue, pp. 5-6. 

8. Papers relating to the quarantine of the 
steamship Cunga, V&PLA, \ 883. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Annual Returns 1891-1892; Board ofHealth 
Minute Book, op. cit., passim. 

11. Australasian Dictionary of Biography, Wo\ 10, 1891- 
1939, Melbourne, 1986, pp. 297-298; Board 
of Health Minute Book, op. cit. 

12. Quarantine Station, North Head (Report of 
the Health Officer upon the State and 
Condition of), V&PLA, 1883. 

13. Ibid;'The Making of Manly’,].]. McGovern, The 
Australasian Catholic Recordyo\yiU,]3nmry 1931. 

14. The Australasian Sanitary Conference, op. rif.T. 
Borthwick, ‘Quarantine’, Paper read before the 
South Australia Branch ofBMA,27-5-1897,A4L. 

15. Quarantine Station, North Head (Report of 
Health Officer upon State and Condition of) 
Appendices, op. cit. 

16. Ibid. 

17. Ibid. 

18. Consolidated Revenue Fund, V&PLA, 1884. 

19. Index to Letters Received from Public Officers, 
Col. Treasurer, AONSIV 9/1 41 2-9/1426. 

20. Ibid. 

21. ]A.Thompson,‘A Record of the Sanitary State of 
New South Wiles’,Transactions of the Intercolonial 
Medical Congress of Australasia, 1889, ML 

22. Quarantine Station at North Head 
(Correspondence in relation to the Removal 
of), V&PLA, 1887-88; Index to Letters 
Received from Public Officers, op. cit. 

23. ftiVf; Plans 3656-7 A4;’The Quarantine Station’, 
The Australasian Nurses’ Journal, 15-6-1907; AJ. 
Metcalfe, 26-5-1933, /L4, A1928, item 376/1. 

24. Crown Solicitor to Com. Medical Officer, 
26-3-1946, A/l, A1658, 874/911. Sect 1. 

25. SMH, 16-5-1898, Record of Deaths at the 
Quarantine Station 1881-1962, AA,CRS C526, 

26. ].H.L. Cumpston, ‘QMamntine Law and Principles', 
Com. of Aust. Publication No. 16, 1919, pp. 16- 
17; Australasian Sanitary Conference, op.n't.,p. 59. 

27. Ibid., p. 52. 

28. Ibid., p. 54. 

29. ]. A. Thompson, ‘Australasian Maritime 
Quarantine, its Theory and Practice’,Transactions 
of the Seventh International Congress of Hygiene 
and Demography, London, 10-17 August 1891, 
London, 1892, ML. 

30. Report of the Board ofHealth on the 
quarantining of SS Preussen, V&PLA, 1887; 
Board of Health Minute Book, op. cit. 

References Chapters 6-8 


31. Ibid. 

32. Ibid. 

33. Quarantine Station (Correspondence in relation 
to Removal of), op. fit.; Board ofHealth Minute 
Book, op. rit; .V.S. IV Government Gazette, 4, 5 
January 1887; Col. Sec. Letters Rec’d., 1888, 

34. An Act to Promote Public Health, 16-1 1-1896, 
No. 38, 60, Victorian Public Statutes; A Bill to 
consolidate the Laws relating to 
Quarantine, 13-10-1897, V&PLC, 1897. 

35. Proceedings of the Australian and Tasmanian 
Intercolonial Plague Conference, Melbourne, 
1900, Board ofHealth, ^O.VSIF 5/5853. 


During Plague in Sydney, 1900 

1. ‘Report on the Outbreak of Plague at Sydney, 
1900’ by the Chief Medical Officer and 
President of the Board of Health, pp. 21-2, 
in J. A. Thompson, The Aetiology of Plague as 
observed at Sydney, 1913; Bubonic Plague: 
Report by the President of the Board of 
Health relative to Bubonic Plague being 
introduced into the Colony, V&PLC, 1898. 

2. /fil'd; J.H.L. Cumpston and E McCallum, The 
History of Plague in Australia 1900-1925, Comm. 
Dept, of Health Publication No. 32; Record 
of Deaths at the Quarantine Station, op. cit. 

3 . Report on the Outbreak of Plague, p. 3., op. 
cit; Board of Health Minute Books and 
Quarantine Books,/10,VS(y5/4936-42,5/5853-5. 

4. Board ofHealth Minute Book, 6-10-1 900, ifci'd. 

5. Report on the Outbreak of Plague, p. 14,. ibid; 
Board ofHealth Minute Book, 26-10-1892, 
17-9-1895, AO.VSkP 5/5853-4. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Bubonic Plague: Report by the President of 
the Board of Health, op. cit. 

8. Board ofHealth Minutes, 8-8-1899, op. cit. 

9. Board ofHealth Minutes and Report on 
Outbreak of Plague, p. 1 1 , op cit; Diaries ofWeekly 
Duty and Occurrences, 1900-13, op. cit; ‘The 
Quarantine Station’, Australasian Nurses’ Journal, 
op. cit., p. 177. 

10. Report on the Outbreak of Plague and Board 
of Health Minutes, op. cit. 

11. Board ofHealth Minutes, 25-1-1900; Diary of 
■Weekly Duty, op. cit. 

12. Report on the Outbreak of Plague, op. cit. 

13. Ibid; Board ofHealth Minutes, ibid. 

14. Report of the Outbreak of Plague, op. cit., p. 20. 

15. Diary ofWeekly Duty, 22-3, 1-4-1900, op. cit. 

16. J. Croft, 27-2-1935, Metcalfe’s Report on 
Aorangi, 1935, Dept ofHealth Correspondence 
re Quarantined Ships, 1917-1948, /1/4, SP 399. 

17. Board of Health Quarantine Books: Report 
on the Quarantine Station, 6-10-1900, 

^O.VS ly 5/5853. 

18. Report on the Outbreak of Plague, op. cit., 
p.21; Record of Deaths at the Station, op. cit. 

19. Ibid; Weekly Diary, op. cit., 18-8-1900. 

20. SMH, 5-5-1900. 

21. SMH, 13-3-1900; Record of Deaths, op. cit.. 
Inscriptions on gravestones.Third Burial Ground. 

22. Inscriptions on gravestones.Third Burial Ground. 

23. Board ofHealth Minutes and Quarantine Books, 
6, 13, 27-3-1900, op. cit., SMH, 18-5-1900. 

24. Board ofHealth Quarantine Books, 5-4-1900, 
22-5-1 900, op. cif; Department of Public Works 
- Expenditure from 1-7-1895 to 30-6-1901, 
Assistant Architect’s Report, AONS IV 5/5853; 
Plans of Quarantine Station: New Contacts 
Building, 17-9-1901, /4y4 Map 3648. 

25. J.H.L. Cumpston, The Health of the People: A 
Study in Federalism, Canberra, pp. 40-41. 


Politics and Practices: The Transfer to Federal Control 1901-20 

1. Proceedings of the Commonwealth and 
States of Australia Quarantine Conference 
1913, W. Ramsay Smith’s draft minutes, 
p.40. Comm. Department of Health 
Library, Canberra. 

2. Board ofHealth Quarantine Books, 19-2-1901 
AO.VS IV 5/5853. 

3. Report of the Commonwealth of Australia 
Quarantine Conference, 1904, draft annotated 
by W. Ramsay Smith, Com. Dept of Health 
Library, Canberra. 

4. Ibid; Annual Report of Director General of 
Public Health, N.S.W, 1913, Public Health 
Library, Univ of Sydney. 


In Quarantine 

5. Dept of Health Quarantine Correspondence 
1909-1914, Premier to Prime Minister, 22-8- 

1912, Prime Minister to Premier, 26-9, 31-10- 

1913, AA CRS A1928 item 860/14. 

6. ‘The Quarantine Bill’, Argus, 7, 23-7-1907. 

7. Letter from the Minister ofTrade and Customs 
to Dr Ramsay Smith, 4-12-1908, Dept of 
Health, AA, op. cit. 

8. Proclamation, 24-7-1 907, Schedule and map 
AA CRS AA69/10, Box 13;Agreement made 
by Valuators and Government Architect, 6- 
10-1910, Board ofHealth Quarantine Books 
/40.VS1T 5/5853; D. Miller to Minister for 
Home Affairs, 18-10-1910, AA A1928 

9. Commonwealth Gazette, 10-7-1909;Chief 
Medical Officer to Govt, Arch., 9-5-1911, 
Chief Sec.’s Correspondence, /IONS IT 5/ 

10. Board ofHealth Quarantine Books, 
19-11-1903, ibid; Public Service Lists; Premier 
to Prime Minister, 14-6-1909, Department of 
Health, /1/lAl 928 876/31. 

11. Chief Sec.’s Correspondence: North Head 
Quarantine Station, 1909-1930, President to 
Architect, 9-5-191 1 , AONSW 5/5396. 

12. Public Service Lists; Commonwealth Gazette, 
4-11-1911, 30-9-1912. 

13. Summary ofVessels detained at North Head 
Quarantine Station from 1854 by P.E. Getting, 
29-1-1912, A/l CRS CP567/1 Bundle 2; 
Station’s Store Records AA C529. 

14. Diary ofWeekly Duty and Occurrences,passim., 
A A C528. 

15. Letter from Mrs M. Worthington, 26-3-1980, 
Quarantine Station History File 80/1 808, Dept 
of Health, Canberra. 

16. Board ofHealth Quarantine Books, 19, 
27-11-1903, 14-7-1904, /lONSIT op. cit. 

17. Ibid., 22-7-1906. 

18. Report on Quarantine in other countries and 
on the Quarantine Requirements of Australia, 
W. Perrin Norris, Director of Quarantine, 31- 

3- 1914, Parliamentary Papers, Vol. 3, 1912, 

19. Ibid. 

20. Ibid; SMH, 23, 26-7-1912. 

21. Public Works Cards, 1911-1924, AA CRS 
A131/1; J.S.C. Elkington, ’The Design and 
Construction of Quarantine Stations’, 
Maritime Quarantine Administration, Com. 
Service Publication No.l6, Melbourne, 1919. 

22. Public works cards, ibid; Register of Quarantine 
Station, AA 1969/10, 30-10-1912, 7-4-1914, 

23. Department ofHealth Correspondence, 
Quarantine Administration, Question of 
Commonwealth assuming responsibility for 
all communicable diseases (includingVenereal 
Disease) arriving from overseas, 1909-1914, 
AA CRS A 1928 item 860/14; J.H.L. 
Cumpston Venereal Disease it; Australia, 
Commonwealth Quarantine Service 
Publication No. 17, Melbourne, 1919. 

24. Prescription Book, Seamen’s Isolation 
Hospital, AA C533; N.S.W. Dept of Health 
Correspondence, 3-4-1950, 4-1-1955, AA 
SP530;Map no.FA58Tll 2-1 1-1916, Dept, 
of Housing and Construction. 

25. 3-4-1950, Organisation in Australian Ports, 
Com. of Aust. Dept, of Health Service 
Publication No. 39, 1927. 

26. ’John Howard Lidgett Cumpston’, /iMStw/ian 
Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 2, Melbourne, 
1967, pp. 175-6; Recollections of N. 
Goodair, former Quarantine Officer, given 
in an interview with the author; SMH, 

4- 7-1913. 


Conflicts and Epidemics, 1913-19 

1. ’Federal Quarantine’, /iMStra/asian Medical 
Gazette, 4-5-1912, p.481. 

2. Report of the Director-General Public Health 
of N.S.W. for year ended 21-12-1913,Public 
Health Library Univ. of Sydney; Smallpox 
Epidemic in New South Wales, 1913, D. G. 
Robertson, Quarantine Service Publication No. 
4, pp. 1 1 - 1 2; Draft Proceedings of Commonwealth 
and States of Australia Quarantine Conference 

1913, Dept. ofHealth Library Canberra. 

3. N.S.W. Premier to Prime Minister, 22-8-1912, 
6-6-1913,31-10-1913, Prime Minister to 
Premier, 17-3-1913, 26-9-1913, Dept, of 
Health Quarantine Correspondence, 1909- 
1914, /l/l CRS A1928, item 860/14; 
Proceedings of Quarantine Conference, ibid. 

4. Report of Director-General, op. cit.; SMH, 

5. Prime Minister to Premier, 5-8-1913,^/4 CRS 
A737, 5, item 13/1130. 

References Chapter 9-10 


6. Draft Proceedings of Quarantine Conference, 
p. 5, op. cil. 

7. Weekly Diary of Duty, 7-9-1913, op. cit. 

8. Report of the Director-General, p. 1 1 1 , op. cit. 

9. Report of the Commonwealth and States 
Quarantine Conference, 1913, Commonwealth 
Parliamentary Papers, 1913; Smallpox Epidemic in 
New South Wales, op cit; Foreword by J. H. 
L.Cumpston, 5-8-1931, to quarantine ftpets 1904- 
1913, collected by W Ramsay Smith, Comm. 
Dept, of Health Library, Canberra; N.S.W. Premier 
to Prime Minister 3-7-1914, A4 CP567/1,2. 

10. Attorney-General to Comptroller General of 
Customs, 20-7-1 914, A4 CRS Al%9/10 Box 13. 

11. AAMC Units in Australia - Military Tubercular 
Wards at the Quarantine Station, North Head; 
Minutes and memos, 22-7-1916 to 3-9-1919, 
Aust.War Memorial 32 (1/5). 

12. R. C. Collier, The Plague of the Spanish Lady : 
The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919, London, 
1974, p. 305; Report of the Director- General of 
Health N.S.IV., 1919, V&PLA, 1920. 

13. J. H. L. Cumpston, Influenza and Maritime 
Quarantine in Australia, Com. of Aust. 
Quarantine Service Publication, 18, p. 62; 
Statement showing vessels quarantined from 
1910-1923, 3-6-64, Records held at Station in 
1984; Record of Deaths, 1881-1962, op. cit. 

14. Report of Director-General of Public Health, 
ibid; Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 27-1-1919. 

15. Report of Director-General, ibid. 

16. Cumpston, op. cit. 

17. Ibid; Officer-in-charge of Station to Memorial 
Hall Trust, 15-2-27, Records at Station in 1984; 
Cumpston, op. cit., p. 38, et seq. 

18. Taped record of interview of A. R. Dill by Dr 
and Mrs J. G. Dickson, in author’s possession. 

19. Report of Director-General ...,ibid; SMH, 28- 
3-1919, Public Works Cards, 1911-1924, AA 
CRS A 131/1 Sub. A/29. 

20. ‘Public Health and Preventive Medicine’, A4//4, 
11-1-1919, p.32. 

21. SMH, 27, 29-11, 4-12-1918, 13-1-1919. 

22. Ibid., 6-12-1918. 

23. Ibid., 5, 7-12-1918. 

24. Ibid., 10-12-1918. 

25. Ibid., 11-12-1918; Town and Country fournal, 

26. SMH, 10, 11, 12-2-1919. 

27. Herald, 13-2-1919. 

28. SMH, 12, 13-2-1919; HeraW, 11,12-2-1919. 

29. Maritime Quarantine Administration, Com. of 
Aust. Quarantine Service Publication No. 19, 
Map facing p. 1, Diagram of arrangements for 
a fully-equipped quarantine station p.ll6. 

30. Royal Commission on Health - Minutes of Evidence, 
1925, Cumpston’s evidence, 21-1-1925, 

31. Evidence of Dr H. G. AUeyne, Select 
Committee on Quarantine Laws, 28-6-1853, 
V&PLC, 1853, quoted by J. H. L. Cumpston in 
‘Health and Disease in Australia’, Chapter 1 1 , copy 
of MS, Public Health Library, Univ. of Sydney. 

32. Cumpston to Minister for Trade and Customs, 
8-l-1919,/ly4 CRs 1928 item 443/llA; 
Conference of Premiers, Co-ordination of 
Commonwealth and State Powers with 
respect to Quarantine and other diseases. 
Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers (General), 1917- 
1919,Vol. rV; for background to the establishment 
of Dept, of Health, see M. Roe, ‘The 
Establishment of the Australian Department of 
Health: its background and significance’, f/ifterica/ 
Studies, Vol. 17, No. 67, October 1976. 


Changing Functions 1921-84 

1. Healt/i, Vol. I,January 1923; Fifty Years of Health: 
A History of the Commonwealth Department of 
Health 192M971, Canberra, 1973. 

2. Public Service Staff Lists, 1921;‘Charles Edward 
Reid’, Health, Vol. VI, May 1928; ‘Health 
Problems of the Empire’, A. Balfour, 1924, 
quoted in Health, Vol. XVII, April 1939. 

3. Drafts for ‘From Mid-Victorian Antiquity to 
Modern Standards’, Hea/l/i, March 1961, Dept, 
of Health, quarantine History File 80/1808. 

4. Health Organisation in Australian Ports, Dept, of 
Health Service Publication No. 39, Canberra, 
pp. 102-8. 

5. Ibid. 

6. ‘Report of an Outbreak of Cholera on 
Shipboard’, Heal//i,Vol. VI, January 1928; A. j. 
Metcalfe, ‘Some Aspects of Quarantine Work 
at Sydney’, Health, Vol. XII, August 1934. 

7. Ibid. 

8. Metcalfe to Foreman Ass., 21-8-1928, zl.,4 SP399. 

9. Quarantine Orders, Com. of Aust. Publication 
(1919), Melbourne, p. 29;Notes on Quarantine 
Procedure for Quarantine Assistants, A. J. 
Metcalfe, Com. Dept, of Health, Sydney, 
1-12-1929; Quarantine Orders, Com. Dept, 
of Health, Canberra, pp. 80-1. 


In Quarantine 

10. Mrs M. G. Worthington to author, 20-12-1986. 

11. Reports by Medical Officer and J.J. Drew on 
the quarantine of RMMV Aorangi from 28-2 
to 13-3-1930, Dept, of Health, Quarantine 
History file 80/1808; SMH, 3-3-1930. A. J. 
Metcalfe, 26-5-1933,/!^ 1928 876/1. 

12. SMH, 6-3-1930. 

13. Ibid., 3, 6, 7, 9-3-1930. 

14. The Sun, 30-1-1935; Dept, of Health; 
Correspondence regarding quarantined ships 
1917-1949.^/4 SP399. 

1 5 . ‘Life in Quarantine’, Isabel Brieriey, 1 935, AA SP399. 

16. Diary ofWeekly Duty, 1921-1972, op. at; Health, 
1923-1972; Quarantine History File, op. at. 

17. Chief Quarantine Officer to Director-General 
of Health, 25-9-1936, /4/4 A1 928 item 876/1; 
Diary ofWeekly Duty, op. cit., 1955. 

18. Correspondence re transfer of the Station, AA 
A 1928 876/31 Commonwealth of Australia 
Gazette, 11-2-1920; Solicitor-General’s 
opinion, 6-5-1929, /4/4 1969/10 item 139C- 
lOA; Accountant and Senior Clerk Dept, of 
Works to Town Clerk, Manly, 10-10-1932, 
Wellings Collection, Manly Municipal Library; 
Daily Telegraph, 7, 31 -5-1 931 . 

19. Ibid. 

20. Maps No. FA158T36 and No. FA15888T35, 
Dept of Housing and Construction (N.S.W.). 

21. Diary ofWeekly Duty, 1939-1944, op. cit. 

22. Ibid. 

23. ‘Disease Risks from Overseas Traffic’, Hea/t/i, 
Vol. XI, No. 2, February 1933, ‘Fifty Years of 
Health’, Health, Vol. XXI, March 1971. 

24. F. McCallum, International Hygiene: A review 
from the Australian Viewpoint of International 
Activities in the Field of Public Health, Com. 
Publication No. 40, Sydney, 1935; ‘The 
Quarantine Aspects of Air Navigation’, 
Health, Vol. No. ,June 1951. 

25. Senior Com. Medical Officer to Acting 
Director-General of Health, 26-6-1946, /1/4 
Quarantine Station-Land and Building File 
No. 874/9/3. 

26. Reports on Quarantine of Passengers and Crew 
of KLM Airliner, 25-1-1951 to 9-2-1951, 
BOAC aircraft, 16-2-1951, 1-2-1951, and 
KLM airliner, 17-2-1951, G. A. Ashton, 

Foreman Assistant, Dept of Health Quarantine 
History File, op. cit; General Manager of Qantas 
to Director-General of Health, 15-3-195 1, AA 
Quarantine Station 874/9/3. 

27. North Head Quarantine Station, Interim Report 
by Director-General of Health 1959-1960, 
Canberra, 1960. 

28. Drafts for ‘From Mid-Victorian Antiquity to 
Modem Standards’, Quarantine History File, op cit. 

29. Annual Report of the Director-General of Health, 
1972-73, Canberra, 1973; SMH, 9 to 14-11-1972. 

30. Dept of Health, Quarantine History File No. 
80/1808; Review of Australian Quarantine 
Arrangements: Commonwealth of Australia 1977, 
Canberra, 1977. 

31. ‘Cyclone Tracy’ and ‘Getting the Drugs to 
Darwin’, Health, Vol. 25, 1975; Weekly Diary, 
January 1975, op. cit. 

32. ‘Medical Team sent to Rescue Vietnamese 
Orphans’, Health, Vol. 25, No. 3, 1 975; Author’s 
taped interview with Foreman Assistant, R. 
Walker; Weekly Diary, op. cit. 

33. Quarantine Division, Annual Report of the 
Director-General of Health, 1974-75, 1975-76, 
Canberra, 1975, 1976. 

34. ‘Quarantine: Changing with the times’. 
Health, Vol. 28, Nos 3-4, 1978; Review of 
Australian quarantine Arrangements, 
Commonwealth of Australia 1977, op. cit; 
’New Quarantine Arrangements’, Press 
Statement by the Minister for Health, R. 
Hunt, Canberra, 17-8-1977. 

35. ’Doors Shut on Contagious Disease’, The 
Mercury, Hobart, 15-1 1-1982; Quarantine 
History File op. cit; Sydney Telegraph, 4-12-1977. 

36. A copy of a published article about the Station, 
undated and unattributed, held in the 
Department of Health’s Quarantine History file, 
reported a version of the epitaph which 
suggested that the reporter had seen Elizabeth 
Craigie’s gravestone before it was broken and 
part of it lost.The words in the text follow the 
reporter’s version, except for the substitution 
of’the friendly breeze’ for ‘the friendly disease’. 
It seems unlikely that disease was described as 
‘friendly’ on the gravestone, which is weather 
worn and may have been misread. 



• Archives Office of New South Wales, 

particularly ; 

— Colonial Secretary and Chief Secretary: 

Copies of letters sent regarding quarantine 
1837-55: 4/3892-4/3893 
Copies of letters sent to Health Officers 
1839-53: 4/3735 

Copies of Letters Received 1826-53: 

Reports ofVessels arrived 1 826-59: 4/5 1 98-4/ 

Copies of Letters sent regarding Immigration 
1836-79: 4/3705-4/3712 
Copies of Letters sent to Immigration Agent 
1864-79: 4/3715 

Papers relating to ship Canton: 4/4825 
Immigrant papers regarding quarantine 
1832-39: 4/1126 

Sydney Harbour Master's Daily Reports of 
vessels arriving and departing 1826-54, 
1856-59: 4/5139-4/5194 
Shipping Master’s Office - Index to ships 
arrived 1837-25: 4/5195-7 
Naval Officer’s Quarterly Reports 1810-24: 

North Head Quarantine Station 1909-30: 

Annual Reports on Immigration in New 
South Wales 1839-81:4/4701-4/4710 
Reports by Surgeons on Health of Immigrants 
during their Passage 1838, 1880-6:4/4698 
Correspondence regarding smallpox epidemic 
1913: 5/5290 

Reports by Immigration Agent on condition 
of immigrant ships on arrival 1837-96: 

Register of Immigrants to New South Wales 
commencing 31-8-1838: 4/4780 
Assisted Immigrants Inwards to Sydney: 
4/4922 - 9 

Immigration - Persons on Government Ships: 

— Papers regarding Royal Commission on Public 

Health 1925: 2/8096.5 

— Colonial Architect: 

Correspondence regarding Quarantine 
Station 1848-66: 2/646-7 
Plan of ship Harmony 2/646 

— Surveyor-General: 

Plans of the Quarantine Ground, North head. 
Surveyors T.H. Nutt and S.Perry Maps 
4955 & 4956 

Letters Received 1830-55: 2/1724 

— Colonial Treasurer: 

Register of Letters Received (general) 
1856-82: 4/6687-4/6720 
Index to Letters Received (general) 
Index to Registers of Letters Received from 
Public Officers, 1882-96: 9/1409-9/1436 
Register of Letters Received from Public 
Officers 1886-1900: 9/1437 - 9/1468 
Register of Letters Received (Miscellaneous) 
1882 -4: 9/1469 -9/1473 
Letters Received from Public Officers 
1886-1900: 9/1 130-375, 9/1704-7, 9/1883.1 

— Executive Council; 

Minute Books 1825-1904: 4/1515-4/1604, 

— Maps of Quarantine Station 1910-30: 5/5396 

— Board of Health: 

Copies of Blank Cover Minutes sent 1 882-85, 
1888-1914: 5/5837 -5840 
Minutes of Proceedings 1881-96:5/2913, 

Extract of Minutes - Bubonic Plague 

1897- 1908: 5/5855 

General Regulations and Precedent Book 
1891-1914; 5/5852 

Quarantine Books 1881-1915:5/5853-4 

— Guide to Shipping and Free Passenger Records, 

Archives Authority of New South Wales 1 984 

— Returns of the Colony 1822-54 

— Statistical Register of New South Wales 1 858-96 

— Public Service Lists 1897-1912 

— Annual Returns (Blue Books) 1862-1910 

■ Australian Archives, particularly; 

— Department of Health, Quarantine Station; 
Weekly Diaries of Duty and Occurrence 

1898- 1983: CRS C528 

Record of Deaths at the Quarantine Station 
1881-1925, 1962: CRS C526 
Register of those admitted to the Quarantine 
Station 191 8-1 920, January 1951 - 
September 1983: CRS C525 
Quarantine Register of those admitted from 
aircraft and vessels 1951-83; CRS C525 
Register of Goods Issued 1894-1911: CRS 


In Quarantine 

— Department of Health, Quarantine Station (cont) 
Service and Holiday Register 1898-1911; 
CRS C532 

Prescription Book 1917-1930: CRS C533 
V. D. Hospital Ledger (Seamen’s Hospital 
Ledger), 1922-28 : CRS C534 
Photographs and Museum Papers: CRS 

Register of Stock Location and Quantity 
1887-93: CRS C561 
Register of Goods Received and Issued 
1884-1911; CRS C562 
Pratique Registers 1889-1935: SP139 
Senior Quarantine Officer, N.S.W., 
Correspondence regarding quarantined ships 
1917-49: SP399/1, CRS 505 

— General Correpondence on communicable 

diseases, prohibited imports and exports and 
pratique 1947-80; SP1862 

— General Correspondence 1945-60, North Head 

Seamen’s Isolation Hospital 1949-57: SP530 

— Correspondence regarding Quarantine Station: 

CRS A1969/10 and CRS A69/10 

— Quarantine Administration, Question of 

Commonwealth assuming responsibility for all 
communicable diseases (including Venereal 
Disease) arriving from overseas 1909- 14; CRS 

— Department of External Affairs Outward Letters 

with State Premiers 1909: CRS A33 Vol. 29 

— Public Works Branch, Central Office, Index 

Cards N.S.W Works Series 1911-24: CRS 

— Prime Minister’s Department, copies of letters 
1913: CRS A737,Vol. 5 13/1130 

Letter from N.S.W Premier to Prime Minister, 
3-7-1914: CRS CP 567/1 Bundle 2 
Department of Health Correspondence 1946: 
CRS A 1658 Item 874/9/1 

• Australian National Library; 

— Diary of Sarah, Wife of (Bishop) W.G. 

Broughton, 1 January 1837-12 September 
1884, MSS Australian War Memorial, 

— Tait files; AAMC Units in Australia: Military 

Tubercular Wards, Quarantine Station, North 

• British Parliamentary Papers: 

— Report from Agent-General for Emigration 


— Report on Quarantine, General Board of 

Health, London, 1849 

— Report of General Board of Health on the 

Epidemic Cholera, 1850 

— Second Report on Quarantine, 1852 

• Commonwealth of Australia Gazettes 

• Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers; 

— Quarantine: Report on Quarantine in other 

countries and on the quarantine requirements 
of Australia, W. Perrin Norris, 1912. 
Quarantine: Report of the Commonwealth and 
States of Australia Quarantine Conference, 

— Smallpox Epidemic in Sydney, 1913 

• Commonwealth Department of Health: 

— Quarantine History File no. 80/1808 

— Departmental Library, Canberra: 

Proceedings of the Commonwealth and States 
of Australia Quarantine Conference,1913. 
Quarantine Papers collected by W. Ramsay 
Smith 1904-13, and A. Mann 1907-14. 
Report by the Commonwealth of Australia 
Quarantine Conference 1904 

— Director-General of Health: Interim Reports 

1959-62, Annual Reports 1974-84 

• Historical Records of New South WalesWoh 1-6, 

1783-1808, F. M. Bladen (ed.). Government 
Printer, Sydney 

• Historical Records of Australia, Series 1 , vols I-XXVI, 

F. Watson (ed.). Government Printer, Sydney 

• Public Record Office, U.K.: 

Colonial Office Papers Dispatch No.l9, 10 April 

1837 regarding ship Lady Macnaghten. 

CO 201/260; Dispatch No.77 12 August 1837 
regarding ship John Barry. 

CO 201/262; Dispatch No. 28, 22 February 

1838 regarding ship Minerva: CO201/271; 
Report of Enquiry into cause of Sickness on 

board the New York Packet, 18 April 1842. 
CO 201/320; ‘Memoranda of a Voyage from 
Cork to Sydney in charge of Emigrants’, j. A. 
Hawkins, CO 201/269 

• Mitchell library; 

— Bourke, R., (Governor), Family Papers MSS 

403/6; Papers relating to ship Lady Macnaghten 
A1267-15; Quarantine A1210A1213, A1269; 
Services of Dr. Inches, 1837 A1217; Papers 
relating to ship Canton A1214; Despatch 
No.25 on Quarantine Laws 15 February 1835 

— Darling, R., (Governor), Papers relating to ship 

Bussorah Merchant 1828, A 1267 

— Gipps, G., (Governor), Papen relating to the 

savings on medicines and quarantine A1 231 

— Holroyd, A.T.,’The Quarantine Laws and their 

Inconsistencies’, in Letter Addressed to the 
Rt Hon Sir John Cam Hobhouse, President 
of the Board of Control, 17 January 1839, 
Simkin, Marshall 6c Co., Edinburgh, 1839 

— Loganiana: a Journal published by the SS Hero 

Passengers during six weeks in quarantine 
in Port Jackson, New South Wales No.l, 12 
July 1872 - No.6, 10 August 1872 (ed. F.Ritchie) 



• Mitchell Library (cont) 

— Moore, C., Diary, presumably written by Charles 

Moore of a Voyage from Engand to 
Australia on board the Corislitution, 1 5 
February to 24 July 1855 

— Platt, T. Diary ofVoyage on ship Preussen, 

November 1886 to January 1887 

— Usherwood,W., Journal of a Voyage to Sydney 

on board the Beejapore 

— Pictures and Photographs: Angas, G. F. ‘ 

Quarantine Burying Ground, Sydney 

— Photographs of the Quarantine Station 

• New South Wales Department of Housing and 


— Maps, Buildings and Site Plans Quarantine Station 

• Sew South Wales Couernment Gazettes 1832-1921 

• Public Statutes of New South Wales 1832-1900 

• Quarantine: An Act for Subjecting Vessels coming to 
Sew South Wales from Certain Places to the 
Performance of Quarantine.. 1852, and Amending Acts 
1841-1853, Government Printer, Sydney, 1882 

• Report, Minutes of Proceedingds and Appendix, 

The Australasian Sanitary Conference of Sydney, 
N.S.W., 1884, (V&PLA 1884) 

• Reports of the Royal Commission appointed on 13 

September 1881 to make a full, diligent and searching 
inquiry into the management of the establishment 
known as the Quarantine Station at the Sorth Head 
and the Hulk 'Faraway' and on 20 December 1881 
to inquire into and report on the general management 
of the Quarantine Station from 1 January 1876 to 1 
June 1881, Government Printer, Sydney, 1882 

• Report of Health Officer upon the State and 

Condition of the Quarantine Station, North 
Head, Sydney, 1883 (V&PLA 1883) 

• Report from the Select Committee on Quarantine 

Laws, 1853, (V&PLC 1853) 

• Royal Commission on Health: Minutes of Evidence, 

Government Printer, Melbourne, 1925 

• Review of Australian Quarantine Arrangements, 

Commonwealth of Australia, 1977, Government 
Printer, Canberra, 1977 

• Rock Carvings and Gravestones at the Quarantine 


• Votes and Proceedings of the New South Wales 

Legislative Council 

• Votes and Proceedings of the New South Wales 
Legislative Assembly 


Books and other Publications 

Baker, Sir Sherston, The Laws Relating to Quarantine 
of Her Majesty’s Dominions at Home and Abroad 
and of the Principal Foreign States, Kegan, London, 

Blainey, G., The Tyranny of Distance, Sun Books, 
Melbourne, 1966 

Boughton, C. R., A Coast Chronicle.The History of 
the Prince Henry Hospital, 1881-1991, Knusden, 
Sydney, 1981 

Bradley, W. A. (ed.), A Voyage to New South Wales 
1 786- 1 792: The Journal of Lieutenant William 
Bradley RNofHMS Sirius, Ure Smith, 1969 

Broxam, G., and Nicholson, I., Shipping Arrivals 
and Departures Sydney 1841-1844, Roebuck 
Society, No. 34, 1988 

Charlwood,D., The Long Farewell: Settlers Under Sail, 
Lane, Ringwood, 1981 

Clark, C.M.H. (ed.). Select Documents in Australian 
History 1788-1850, &c Robertson, Sydney, 

Clark, C.M.H. (ed.). Select Documents in Australian 
History 1851-1900, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 

Collier, R., The Plague of the Spanish Lady: the 
Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919, Macmillan, 
London, 1974 

Collins, D., An Account of the English Colony in New 
South Wiles, (ed., B.H. Fletcher), Reed, Sydney, 

Committee on Disinfectants Appointed by the 
American Public Health Association, DisiM/erfion 
and Disinfectants: Their Application and Use in the 
Prevention and Treatment of Diseases and in Public 
and Private Sanitation, New Hampshire, 1 888 

Commonwealth Department of Health, Fifty Years 
of Health: A History of the Commonwealth 
Department of Health, 1921-1971, Government 
Printer, Canberra, 1973 

Copland, J., A Dictionary of Practical 

Medicine, comprising General Pathology, the Nature 
and Treatment of Diseases, 3 vols., Longman, 
Brown, Green and Longman, London, 1844-58 

Commonwealth of Australia Quarantine Service, 
Maritime Quarantine Administration, Service 
Publication No. 16, Government Printer, 
Melbourne, 1919 

Creighton, C., A History of Epidemics in Britain, 
London, 1894, (reprint Cass, London, 1965) 

Cummins, C.J., The Administration of Medical Services 
in New South Wales 17^8-1^55, Australian 
Studies in Health Service Administration, 


In Quarantine 

Cumpston.J. H. L., The History of Smallpox in 
Australia 1788-1908, Government Printer, 
Melbourne. 1914 

Cumpston.J. H. L., Influenza and Maritime 
Quarantine in Australia, Service Publication 18, 
Melbourne, 1919 

Cumpston.J. H. L., The Health of the People: A Study 
in Federalism, Roebuck Society, No. 19, 
Canberra, 1978 

Cumpston.J. H. L., The History of Diphtheria, Scarlet 
Fever, Measles and Whooping Cough in Australia, 
1788-1925, Commonwealth Department of 
Health Service Publication No. 37, 1927 
Cumpston.J. H. L., Venereal Diseases in Australia, 
Commonwealth Quarantine Service Publication 
No. 17. 1919 

Cumpston.J. H. L., Australian Maritime Quarantine 
and the Evolution of International Agreements 
concerning Quarantine, Government Printer, 
Melbourne, 1913 

Cumpston.J. H. L., and McCallum, F, The History 
of the Intestinal Infections (and Typhus Fever) in 
Australia 1788-1923, Commonwealth 
Department of Health Service Publication No. 
36, 1927, 

Cumpston.J. H. L., and McCallum, F, The History 
of Plague in Australial 900- 1 925, Government 
Printer, Melbourne, 1927 
Cumpston.J. H. L. and McCallum, F, The History 
of Smallpox in Australia 1903 - 1923, 
Commonwealth Department of Health Service 
Publication , No 32, 1925 
Cumpston.J. S., Shipping Arrivals and Departures, 
Sydney,1788-1825, Roebuck, 1977 
Curson, P. H., Times of Crisis: Epidemics in Sydney 
1788-1900, Sydney University Press, 1985 
Elkington.J. S. C., Notes on Quarantine Practice for 
Quarantine Officers, Commonwealth Department 
of Health Service Publication no. 31, 
Melbourne,! 925 

Fletcher, B. H., Colonial Australia before 1850, 
Nelson, Singapore, 1981 
Ford, E., Bibliography of Australian Medicine 
1790-1900, Sydney University Press, 1976 
Foster, S. G., Colonial Improver, Edward DeasThomson 
1800-1879, Melbourne University Press, 1978 
Gandevia, B., Holster, A., and Simpson, S., An 
Annotated Bibliography of the History of Medicine 
and Health, Royal Australasian College of 
Physicians, Sydney, 1984 

Howard, J., An Account of the Principal Lazarettos in 
Europe with various papers relating to the Plague, 
together with further observations on some Foreign 
Prisons and Hospitals, with additional remarks on the 
present state of those in Great Britain and Ireland, W. 
Eyres, London, 1789 

Metcalfe, A. J., Noto on Quarantine Procedures for 
Quarantine Assistants, Commonwealth 
Department of Health, 1929, revised by F. B. 
McCann, 1952, Government Printer, 1952 
Pike, D. (ed.), Australian Dictionary of 

Biography,1788-1 850, 1851-1890, Melbourne, 
1966, 1969 

McCallum, E, International Hygiene: a Review from 
the Australian Viewpoint of International Activities 
in the field of Public Health, Commonwealth 
Department of Health Service Publication 
No.40, 1935 

MacDonagh, O., <4 Pattern of Government Growth 
1 800- 1860:ThePassengerActs and their Enforcement, 
MacGibbon and Kee, London, 1961 
Merewether, H. A., By Sea and Land, being a Trip 
through Egypt, India, Ceylon, Australia, New 
Zealand and America all around the iforW, McMillan, 
London, 1874 

Meyer, K. E, in collaboration with C. Ravasini, et. 
al.. Disinfected Mail: An Historical Review 
and Tentative Listing of Cachets, Handstamp Markings, 
Wax Seals, Wafer Seals and Manuscript Certifications, 
alphabetically arranged according to Countries, Gossip 
Printery ,Kansas,1962 
Nicholson, I. H., Shipping Arrivals and 

Departures, Sydney, 182 6- 18 40, Singipore, 1977 
Nicholson, I. H., Log of Logs, Roebuck, No. 41 
Pelling, M., Cholera, Fever and English Medicine 
1825-1865, Oxford, 1978 
Robertson, D. G., The Smallpox Epidemic in New 
South Wales, 1913 Commonwealth Department 
of Health Service Publication No. 4, 

Singer, C., and Underwood, E. A., A Short History 
of Medicine, Clarenden, Oxford, 1962 
Spink, W.W., Infectious Diseases: Prevention and 
Treatment in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, 
Dawson, Folkestone, 1978 
Tench, W., Sydney's First Four Years, Reprint, Angus 
& Robertson, Sydney, 1961 
Thompson.J. A., The Aetiology of Plague deduced from 
its epidemiology as observed at Sydney, Government 
Printer, Sydney, 1913 

Watson, J. F, The History of Sydney Hospital from 
1811 to 1911, Government Printer, Sydney, 

Welch.J. H.,Hell to Health.The History of Quarantine 
at Port Phillip Heads 1852- 1966, Nepean 
Historical Society, Victoria, 1969 
Woolcock, H. R., Rights of Passage: Emigration to 
Australia in the Nineteenth CenlMry, Tavistock, 
London, 1986 





Armstrong, W. G.,The First Australian Health 
Officer: Haynes Gibbes Alleyne’, Medical 
Journal of Australia, 24 ]une 1939 
Australasian Medical Gazette, Vol.31, No.l8, 4 May 
1912, ‘Federal Quarantine’ 

Australasian Nurses'Journal (unattributed), ‘The 
Sydney Quarantine Station’, 15 June 1907 
Borthwick,X, ‘Quarantine’, Australasian Medical 
GazetU,Vol XVI, 22 June 1897 
Cumpston,J. H. L., ‘Public Health in Australia’, 
Medical Journal of Australia,Vo\A , 25 April 1931 
Cumpston,J. H. L.,‘The Evolution of Public 
Health Administration in Australia’, Medical 
Journal of Australia, 6 February, 1932 
Cumpston, J. H. L., ‘Aeroplane Traffic and 
Protection of Australia from Disease’, Medical 
Journal of Australia, September, 1933 
Cumpston, J. H. L., ‘Quarantine Law and 

Principles’ in Maritime Quarantine Administration, 
Commonwealth Quarantine Service Publication 
No.l6, 1919 

Eames,W L’E., ‘Reform in Quarantine’, Australasian 
Medical Gazette, Vol.18, 20 September 1899 
Foley, J.D., ‘The Beginnings of a Quarantine System 
at the Quarantine Station, North Head, 

Port Jackson', Journal of the Royal Australian 
Historical Society, Vol.71,June 1985 
Gandevia, B., ‘Socio-Medical Factors in the 
Evolution of the First Settlement at Sydney 
Cove 1788-1 803 ’.JoMma/ of the Royal Australian 
Historical Society,Vol.6l, March 1975 
Gilder, G. A.,‘The Faraway and the Smallpox 
Outbreak of 188 1-1 882’, Journal of the Royal 
Australian Historical Society, Vol. XXIV, 1939 
• Health: Journal of the Gommonwealth Department of 
Health 1923-40, 1951-84, particularly: 

-Ford, E.,’The School of Public Health and 
Tropical Medicine’, Vol. 1, 1951 
-Franklands, H. M., ‘Quarantine Aspects of Air 
Navigation’ ,Vol. 1, 1951 
-McCallum, E, ‘An Early Australian Health 
Officer’, Vol. IV, 1926 

-Metcalfe, A. J.,’Some Aspects of Quarantine 
Work at Sydney’, Vol. XVI 1, 1934 
and the following unattributed articles: 

-’Introduction of Quarantine Measures into 
Australia’, Vol. V, 1927 

-’The Trans Pacific Flight’,Vol.Vl, 1928 ‘Report 
of an Outbreak of Cholera on 
Shipboard’, Vol. VI. 1928 
-’Smallpox and Quarantine in Australia’, Vol. 8, 

-’Co-operation in Quarantine Service’, Vol. 8, 

Health (cont) 

-’From Mid-Victorian Antiquity to Modern 
Standards’, Vol. 10, 1969 
-’Fifty Years of Health’, Vol. 21, 1971 
-’Quarantine:Counting the Costs’, Vol. 25, 1975 
-’Touching up North Head’s History’, Vol. 3, 1968 
-’Cyclone Tracy’, Vol. 25, 1975 
-’Medical Team Sent to Rescue Vietnamese 
Orphans’, Vol. 25, 1975 

-’Quarantine, Changing with the Times’, Vol. 28, 

Ilbery, P. L.T., and Foley, J. D., ‘North Head’s Part 
in our History’, Health Reporter: Journal of 
the Gommonwealth Department of Health,Vo\. 1, 

Jay, R., ‘Quarantine at Torrens Island’, The Local 
Museum,Wol. 3, April 1982 
Metcalfe, A. J., ‘The Growth and Development of 
Public Health Services in Australia During 
Fifty Years’, Mediraf Journal of Australia, June 1951 
McGovern, J.J., ‘The Making of Manly’, /iMStra/asian 
Catholic Record, Vol. VI 1 1 , 1931 
Medical Journal of Australia (unattributed): 

-’Public Health and Preventative Medicine’ 

1 1 January 1919 

-’Pneumonic Influenza’ 9 February, 1919, 

Roe, M.,’The Establishment of the Australian 
Department of Health; its Background and 
Significance’, Historical Studies,Wo\. 17, No. 67, 

Thompson, A. J., ‘Australasian Maritime 

Quarantine,Theory and Practice’, Transactions of 
the Seventh International Congress of Hygiene and 
Demography, London, 1891, Government Printer, 
Sydney, 1892 

Thompson, A.J., ‘Quarantine and Smallpox’,JoHrMa/ 
and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New 
South Wales,Vo\. XXI, 18 October, 1887 
Thompson, A. J.,‘ A Record of the Sanitary State 
of New South Wales on 31 December 1887’, 
Transactions of the Intercolonial Medical Congress of 
Australasia 1889, Government Printer, Sydney, 

Wiburd, C. R., ‘Notes on the History of Maritime 
Quarantine in Queensland, Nineteenth 
Century’ , Journal of the Royal Historical Society of 
Queensland, Vol. 111,1 945 



In Quarantine 

Unpublished Manuscripts, Essay 
and Reports 

Aurousseau, G. H., ‘Reminiscences of Old Manly 
1868-1880’, Wellings Collection, Manly 
Municipal Library 

Cumpston.J. H. L., ‘Health and Disease in Australia. 
A History’,1 928, copy of MSS held in Public 
Health Library, University of Sydney 
Masters, C., ‘Quarantine at Albany’, copy of MSS 
held in Public Health Library, University of 

Thorp, W., ‘Archival Report: The Quarantine 
Station, North Head, Sydney 1832-1983’, 
National Parks and Wildlife Service (N.S. W.) 
Thorp,W, ‘Chronological Index of Plans Relating 
to the Quarantine Station, North Head, 
from Plan Room of the Department of Housing 
and Transport’, National Parks and Wildlife 
Service (N.S.W) 

Thorp, W,‘ Preliminary Analysis of European Rock 
Carvings Recorded at North Head Quarantine 
Station’, National Parks and Wildlife Service 

‘Text Translations SC 11 216 and HPll 11 in Xia 
Jun and Zhou Jiyao, Translations of Chinese 
Inscriptions at North Head Quarantine Station’ 
(unattributed), National Parks and Wildlife 
Service (N.S.W.) 

Whittington, J.,’ North Head Quarantine Station 
1900-1935’, Final Essay for M.A. degree. 
University of Sydney 



Australasian Sketcher 
Daily Telegraph 

Illustrated Australian News 
Illustrated London News 
Illustrated Sydney News 

Labor Daily 
Manly Daily 
Mercury (Hobart) 


Sunday Telegraph 
Sydney Gazette 
Sydney Herald 
Sydney Mail 
Sydney Morning Herald 
Town & Countryjoumal 


VESSELS QUARANTINED April 1853 - 1881 

Codes for Causes of Death 




Cause Deaths 

CH: Cholera 






CP: Chicken Pox SF: Scarlet Fever 

D: Diarrhoea 

TDF: Typhoid Fever 






F: Fever (unspecified) TF: Typhus Fever 






JF: Java Fever 

V: Variola 






M: Measles 

WH: Whooping Cough 

S: Smallpox 

WP: Water Pox 

St Helena* 










of Londonerry 

^Immigration Vessels # - not known 

David Mclver* 





(a) Date arrived is often shown in official records as 

& M 

the date a vessel arrived at a Sydney wharf after 

An additional 25 vessels from San Francisco were 

release from quarantine. 

quarantined in 

1854, each for two days, as in 1853. 

(b) Where people remained in quarantine for a longer 

period than the quarantined vessel, their days in 

Ebba Brahe* 






are shown in brackets. 


(c) Primary cause of quarantine. 

Queen of 





(d) Deaths are not always due to the disease for which 


the vessel was quarantined. 










Arrived Days Cause Deaths 







(a) (b) (c) (d) 










5-4-1853 14 S 







30-4-1853 24(42) S 







30-5-1853 12(20) M 

Golden Era* 






2-8-1853 79 S 1 






David Mclver* 

1-9-1853 7 M 1 







25-8-1853 12 M 

David Mclver* 





An additional 9 vessels from San Francisco were 

Caesar Coddjrey 28-1-1856 




quarantined in 

1 853, each for 2 days, while the Health 






Officer checked the health of people on board. 

Ben Nevis* 






16-6-1854 4 M 

Ellen Baird 






8-7-1854 2 SF 







22-7-1854 7(18) M 2 







3-9-1854 3 MfifSF - 






Vessels Quarantined 





Cause Deaths 




Cause Deaths 







(c) (d) 

Mary Ami* 





Kate Kearney 





John and Lucy* 






























Admiral Lyons* 





William Manson 

























S'orthern Light* 





























Forest Monarch* 

21-12-1858 10(38) 



Samuel Plimsoll* 





Admiral Lyons* 




















Lady Elma 
















Annie Wilson* 




















Hannah More* 















■ Commonwealth* 





Annie Wilson* 





Annie H. Smith 






























Star of India* 













































Cape Horn 





City of Sydney 





Star of Bmnswick* 








































Prince George 
















Light Brigade* 





La Hogue* 





Sir Robert Sale* 










Sea ,\ymph 















Marie Louise 










Samuel Plimsoll* 2-6-1879 


























von Middleberg 









Samuel Plimsoll* 9-7-1880 


In addition to the 89 deaths, 

In Quarantine 

(^use Deaths 


(c) (d) 



M&CP - 





M 1 






least thirteen Sydney residents 



Cause Deaths 

































at the station in this period. 


Table A. Immigrant Vessels Quarantined 

1837 - March 1853 (page 155) 

Bounty Immmigration: Returns showing particulars in respect of every immigrant vessel which arrived in the 

Colony since the commencement of the Bounty System of Immigration (1838), V&PLC 1853; 

Public Record Office, U.K., 

• Colonial Office Correspondence, Governors’ Dispatches: 

John Barry C.O. 201/262 65; Minerva C.O. 201/271 ffs 19 - 520; Lady MacNaghten C.O. 201/ 

260 5025 ffs 225 Sc 238v - 241; Colonel Snodgrass’s Despatch 1838, C.O. 201/271 5025; 

Colonial Secretary Letters received 1837 AONSW 4/2377-79; 

Immigration Agent’s lists of Assisted Immigrants Inwards to Sydney for each vessel shown AONSW. 

Table B. Vessels Quarantined 

April 1853 - 1881 (pages 156-158) 

Reports of the Health Officer of Port Jackson 1851 -1859 V&PLC 1852-1 855 . V&PLA 1856-1861. 

Summary of vessels detained (principally on account of smallpox) from 1854-1912, P. Getting, Deputy 
Superintendent of Quarantine to J.H.L.Cumpston, Acting Director of Quarantine, 29-1-1912. AA 
CRS CP 567/1, Bundle 2. 

Return ofVessels placed in Quarantine from 1 - 1 - 1 876 to 1-6-1881 , Appendix, Report of Royal Commission 
appointed 13-8-1881. Returns of Assisted Immigration from U.K. to Sydney, Reports from Immigration 
Agent V&PLA 1862-1870. 

Reports by Immigration Agent on condition of immigrants and ships on arrival 1837-1881 AONSW 4/4697, 
4/4623-8, 4/4697. 

Persons on Bounty Ships 1 865- 1 869 AONSW 4/4789. 

Executive Council Minutes 1860-1881. 

Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (N.S.W) 

Gravestones and Rock Carving?, Quarantine Station. 

Annual Reports on Immigration in N.S.W 1838-1865 AONSW 4/4708. 1880-1. 4/4707. 1839-1850, 4/4709. 

Shipping Master’s Officer - Index to vessels arrived 1841-1882 AONSW 4/5195-6. 


Aborigines 16, 18, 21, 130, 135 
Accommodation - capacity 55, 58, 81, 83, 89, 104, 
119, 125-6 

Aicraft quarantines 126 
Aitken, Dr. J. 39-40 

Alleyne, Dr.H.G. 53-4, 56, 59, 62, 64, 66, 69, 71-2, 
76, 80, 116, 180 
Alligator (hospital ship) 18 
Ambulance Corps 77, 93 
Anderson Stuart, Professor T.P. 79, 94 
Aorangi 121-3 
Armstong, Dr.W.G. 110 
Arygyllshire 1 14-5 

Asians: accommodation, attitudes 72, 75, 81-2, 84, 

101, 121-2 

Autoclaves 102-3, 123 

Barney, G. 36-37 
Bateman, Dr. E. 40-1 
Baroda 64-5 
Batory 125 

Beattie, Dr.J.A. 77, 79 
Beejapore 55-7 

Board of Health, London 20 , 59 
Board of Health, N.S.W. 60, 77-8, 86, 88-9, 91-2, 
96-7, 109 

Boundaries 36, 87, 98, 124 
Boundary Pillars 37, 61 

Bourke, Governor Sir Richard 19-22, 24-5, 30, 

Bowler, Dr. J. 30, 32 
Brierley, 1 1 22 
B.M.A.(NSW) 85 
British Quarantine 15, 19, 20 ,81 
Broughton, Bishop W.G. 33 
Browne, H. H. 51-2, 55, 59, 70 
Buildings - contact accommodation 35, 37-8, 51-2, 
57-8, 61-2, 65, 68, 80-4, 94-5, 101-2, 104, 126 
Buildings - Hospital 33-7, 40, 51-2, 57, 80-4, 89-90, 
93, 101-2, 104, 119 

Buildings - Observation block 102, 104, 119, 120 
Buildings- Morgue 82, 119, 120 
Buildings - Wharf area 82, 102-3, 119 
Buildings - Bathing Block 102-3, 119 
Buildings - Lock-up 92-3 
Buildings - Disinfecting Block 102-3, 112, 119 
Bull, Dr.R.R. 127-8 
Burial Ground - First 57-8, 120, 131-3 
Burial Ground - Second 58, 61, 67-8, 72, 77, 120, 

Burial Ground - Third 77, 89, 93, 100, 134-7 
Bussorah Merchant 18 

Caffyn, Dr.S.M. 72 
Canton 22-3 

Cargoes - airing and fumigation 14-15, 33, 79, 123 

Carroll, J. 46, 52, 54-6, 61, 63, 68-9, 72, 76-7 

Catholic Churchiland grant 81,87 

Cholera 19, 20, 90, 127 

Cleansing procedures 22-3, 38-9, 79, 82-3, 90 

Clergymen- official policies 33, 93, 113-4 

Clune, Dr.M.J. 72-3, 76 

Coast Hospital 77-9, 87-9, 92, 95, 107 

Code of Quarantine regulations, 1855 53-4, 68 

Comm. Dept, of Health 116-8 

Comm. Serum Laboratories 119, 125 

Committee: sickness on immigrant ships, 1 838 47-8 

Committee: Quarantine Laws, 1853 59-60, 116 


Australasian Sanitary Conference, 1884 78, 85-6 
Intercolonial Plague, 1900 88 
Comm.-State: Maritime Quarantine, 1904 96-7, 109 
Comm. -State: Quarantine Regulations, 1909 98 
Comm.-State: epidemics, 1913 108-9 
Comm.-State: Influenza, 1918 116 
Constitution 60-1 
Convicts 16-19, 31, 36, 39, 45 
Cowper’s wharfQuarantine Depot 71-4, 92 
Cumpston, Dr.J.H.L. 95, 104-5, 107, 109-10, 116-8 
Cyclone Tracy 127-8 

Darling, Governor R. 1 8-9 

Dept, of Public Health, NSW 78-9, 105, 107-9 

Devonport 69-70 

Dill, A.R. 111-3 

Diseases - theories 14, 16, 20, 23, 59, 60, 78-9, 
90-1, 95 

Disinfecting equipment (including mail) 31, 39, 52, 
65, 79, 82-3, 90 
Dobie, Dr.J. 32, 42-4, 49, 59 
Drew,J.J. 118, 121-2 
Dunn, Dr.T R. 39-40 

Egan, Nurse A. 1 13 
Elliott, T.E 25, 48 

Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital 1 29 

Faraway (hospital ship) 65, 67-8, 71, 73-6, 81-3, 87 

Federal quarantine 82, 85-7, 95-6 

Flagstaff 39, 62 

Fort Phillip Signal Station 53 


In Quarantine 

Funicular railway 102-3, 119 

Getting, P.E. 99, 118 

Gipps, Governor G. 40-44, 47, 50 

Cunga 79 

Harmony (Hospital Ship) 57-8, 60-1, 63, 65 
Hawkins, DrJ.A. 25-29 
Health Officer, Albany 87 

Health Officer, Port Jackson 42-4, 49, 52, 68, 79-81 , 86 
Health Officer, Port Phillip 50 
Hero 64, 67 

Hustwick, Captain G. 25-6, 28, 29, 33-4 

Immigrants’ Barracks 33, 41, 44 
Immigration Regulations 19, 24, 47, 50, 62-4 
Inches, Dr.C. 30- 33 

Infectious Diseases Supervision Act, 1881 79 
Influenza - Pneumonic 1 10-6 
Inhalation chambers 112 

John Barry 27, 36 
Juno 13, 62 

Kelly, Archbishop M. 113-4 
King, Governor P.G. 17 

Lady MaeSaghten 23-33 
Little Manly Cove 32, 36, 42 

Mackellar, Dr.C.K. 79, 80-3, 85 

MacLaurin, Dr.H.N. 79, 87 

Macquarie, Governor L. 1 8 

Manly Hospital 124 

Manly 46, 87, 100, 108, 112, 115, 124 

Medic 1 1 1 

Medical Treatment 29, 32, 39-41, 73-5 
Merewether, H.A. 65 
Metcalfe,Dr. AJ. 120-1, 126 
Miles, T.R. 56-7 
Military Guard 30, 33, 38 
Minerva 41-2 

Ministerial responsibility 30, 55, 78-9, 97 
Moore, C. 60-1 
Morley 18 

National Parks & Wildlife Service 129 
New York Packet 39, 45 
Newcastle 99 
North Briton 49 

Nursing staff 32, 38, 87, 92, 107, 110-2 
Oroya 83 

Orphan School 34, 49 
Osborne, Dr.A. 22-5 
Otway 106 

Palmyra 43 

Parkhill Reserve 124 
Passenger Acts 26, 48, 63, 86 
Paton, Dr.R.T. 107, 109 

Perrin Norris,Dr. W. 98, 101, 104, 106 
Pinnock, J.D. 26, 47 
Plague 14, 88-95 
Polding, Archbishop J.B. 33 
Portugese refligees-Timor 1 25 
Preussen 86-7 

Public Health Act, 1896 87-8 
Samuel Plimsoll: gratuities 63-4 

Quarantine Acts 20, 45, 50, 53, 97-8, 125 
Quarantine Stations (Australian) 50-1, 98-9, 102 
Quarantine Regulations, Proclamations 17-22,52-4 
Quarantine definitions 9, 10, 15, 85-6, 97, 125 

Rations (immigrants) 31 

Redfern, Dr.W. 17-18, 41 

Reid, Dr.C.W. 99, 106-7, 109, 1 12, 1 14, 1 18 

Royal Commission into management of 

Station, 1881 55, 67, 69, 70-7 
Sakaki Maru 1 27 
Sandon,J. 45-6 

Savage, Dr.A. 30, 39, 44, 49, 51 
Seamen's Isolation Hospital 103-5, 124 
Sewerage 83-4 

Smallpox 14, 16, 17, 22, 48, 66-77, 79, 97, 102, 
105-9, 128 
Spink, J. 31, 

Staffing 68, 77, 80, 83, 86, 89, 90, 100, 1 18, 121, 

Station: re-siting 51, 81, 87, 112-3 
Station’s vessels 51, 71, 82, 100, 103 
Stuart, Dr.j. 30 

Superintendents of Quarantine 31, 44-5, 80, 99 
Sydney Police Force 38, 76, 1 12 
Sydney Hospital 32, 73 

Tasman 119-20, 123 

Thompson, Dr. J. Ashburton 83, 85-6, 90, 92, 97 
Thomson, E. Deas 21, 30, 32, 38, 51, 55, 65 
Transfer to federal control 98-9, 107-9 
Transfer to state control, 1984 98, 129 
Treasure Trove 84-5 
Tubercular Wards (Military) 109-110 
Typhus Fever 29, 30, 40, 43, 66 

Vietnamese Orphans 128 
Vincent, J.F. 80, 87, 92, 100 

Walker, R. 127-8 

Walsh, W. 67, 72, 75-6 

World wars I & II 109, 124 

Water Supply 52, 62, 82, 100, 103, 126 

White, J. 21,58 

Wiliam Rodger 21, 42-3, 130 

Wise, G.F. 55, 69 

Women -official attitudes 1 1, 23-4, 28, 38, 56-7, 61 
Worthington, M. 100, 120 

F rom the earliest days of the colony until 
very recent years a small patch of land at the 
entrance to Sydney Harbour served as Australia^ 
principal maritime quarantine station. Thousands of 
immigrants and travellers passed through this remote 
and now quiet place, and many, taken by illness, never 
passed beyond the boundaries of the Station. 

This history of the Quarantine Station brings to life 
156 years of Australia's past — most notably the 
history of immigration and the development of public 
health administration in Australia. Through times 
of war, peace and plague it is always a fascinating 
and often moving story. 

Jean Foley (Lady Foley) lion. D. Lilt., N.A., Dip. Soc. Stud., was 
educated at Sydney Girls lUgh School and the University of Sydney 
where she subsequently became the university Registrar. On 
retirement, she undertook post-graduate studies in Australian 
history. Her background as the daughter of a Scottish mother who 
immigrated to Austraiia has given her a special interest in the history 
of immigration, of which quarantine history is an influential part. 

ISBN D-flbm?-7D3-fl 

Kangaroo Press